If you want to keep track of modern Danish art and design, Forårsudstillingen at Kunsthal Charlottenborg in Copenhagen is a pivotal point of departure. Yesterday was the final day of the annual censored exhibition, where artists like Per Kirkeby and Olafur Eliasson once had their debut, and I went there to catch a last glimpse of the exhibition’s proposition as to what the Scandinavian art scene will look like in the years to come. In its 151 year-history, Forårsudstillingen obviously draws on a number of traditions and codes of practice; however, a new and substantial initiative has been introduced this year, triggering critics to designate it a rebirth and a mall-like ornamentation. The 2008 exhibition has been curated much in line with the direction of the art scene in general, where hierarchies between different art directions are loosened, juxtaposed, and discussed.
Chief curator is the internationally acclaimed, New York-based designer Karim Rashid, who is responsible for the overall design and title of the exhibition, 21. With this title, Rashid lets the exhibition leap into the twenty-first century, where the boundaries between art and design become increasingly vague. Therefore, this year’s exhibition offers fashion, graphic design, and sound art aside from the more traditional genres of architecture and visual arts—all indicating renewal and a relation to our current social, political, spiritual, and technological development. Karim Rashid’s own aesthetic expression is present throughout the exhibition, not only in the selection and composition of the works, but also in the separate works that have been placed on walls covered with his colorful, digitally designed wallpapers, manifesting the unity of the exhibition as a whole.
During the past few weeks, American artist Sally Mann has received a lot of attention in Denmark in connection with the opening of her retrospective exhibition, Sally Mann: Photographs at The National Museum of Photograpy in Copenhagen. National TV and newspapers have featured her in numerous interviews and features; the Royal Library screened Steven Cantor’s documentary on Sally Mann, What Remains, and she also gave an artist talk for approximately 500 listeners on a recent sunny Friday night.
The retrospective exhibition focuses on three of Sally Mann’s artistic projects: Immediate Family, Deep South and What Remains. The overall themes in the poetic and romantic—yet nonconformist—sequences of pictures are beauty, death, and the passing of time. The pictures are intimate and personal, but concurrently deal with universal memories, emotions, joys, and fears. They expose a beauty but also bear a touch of melancholy and sentimentality within, thereby becoming pleasant as well as devastating for the viewer.
What makes Mann an outstanding photographic artist is not only her choice of often banal and easily accessible motifs, but also their unique approach to the photographic process. Whereas most photo-based artists work with new digital techniques, she has chosen to return to the origin of photography: Deep South as well as What Remains are made from wet plate collodion negatives. At present, this process, which was primarily used in the period after Frederick Scott Archer’s proclamation of the technique in 1851, has almost been replaced by other techniques. Continue reading »