EXIT and Enter

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I’ve already mentioned that one way to catch up on the contemporary Danish art scene is to get a glimpse of Forårsudstillingen at Charlottenborg, but another and maybe even more obvious starting point may be the creative and innovative EXIT 08 exhibition at Kunsthal Gl. Strand, which presents works from this year’s graduation students from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, thus emphasizing their entry into the enormous world of art.

Currently in its 12th year, EXIT 08 showcases works from 24 students and although it may not all be international, the exhibition certainly does rouse and entertain the viewer. There are three floors, each presenting its own dynamic layout and connection between the exhibited pieces, resulting in three overruling themes, which let the works extend beyond the exhibition and into our memory and social consciousness. And regardless of the fact that EXIT 08 is a student exhibition, the themes are universal and pivotal in contemporary art. Thus memory is regarded as a reenactment of motives from the past as a reflection on the present; art as social conscience has flourished since the 90s; and the longing to break down the institutional nature of art is desire inspired by the modern avant-garde movements in the 1920s.

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But in spite of the unifying themes, the exhibition still appears scattered and diffuse, resulting in a messy and at times chaotic show. This is of course a natural consequence, as all of the artists are graduates from the same academy and even the same year; however, bringing in an outside curator might have softened some of these diverse contradictions that sometimes shock or annoy the viewer, but also sometimes result in a pleasant surprise.

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Experience says that only five percent of the artists exhibiting at EXIT will be able to make a living of their art and going through the various pieces, I have some suggestions as to who they may be. Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeld, for instance, showcases a video shot in Lebanon. In the unfinished building by architect Oscar Niemeyer, Dirckinck-Holmfeld elaborates on the meeting between fiction and reality, hope and failure. She forces the gaze into a challenging and conceptual encounter with the social sphere. Jonas Pihl has created a stunning and imaginative relief–a hybrid of sculpture and painting—on which he has attached eyes, sounds and various diverse objects. It is a constellation, luring the viewer into an endless and psychedelic parallel reality. Theis Wendt has created an amusing mixture of a playroom for children and an office for adults. Sitting on the raised threshold somehow tranquilizes the viewer and leads the mind out of the enclosure. Also Marie Kjølbæk Iversen’s swirling projection Retroaction shows promise. Maybe not in the long run, but it does point at art as being self-producing; the viewer has to participate in the work in order to complete it.

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EXIT 08 will be on view at Kunsthal Gl. Strand until July 6th.


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