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Copenhagen Art Festival Press Photo

Copenhagen Art Festival Has Ended, But The Exhibitions – Still Open 0

Elīna Zuzāne

With an ambitious exhibition programme, Copenhagen Art Festival 2012, which began on August 24 and concluded this weekend, presented Danish and international contemporary art in the heart of Copenhagen. Although the festival has ended, a lot of exhibitions are still open. Hosted by five contemporary art venues – Kunsthal CHARLOTTENBORG, DEN FRIE Centre of Contemporary Art, GL STRAND Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, NIKOLAJ Copenhagen Contemporary Art Centre and OVERGADEN Institute of Contemporary Art – it was the first festival of its kind in Denmark, taking over not only the “white cube” exhibition halls, but also the city’s urban environment – its narrow streets, open squares and places used by everyday commuters. In a way, Public Space makes the sixth venue of this anticipated event.

Although in 2008 Copenhagen welcomed U-Turn, possibly the conceptual origin of Copenhagen Art Festival, it was a onetime contemporary art affair, which mostly focused on new sites around the city, not the contemporary art spaces that Copenhagen already had. “This was the first time we were doing a big collaborative festival like this,” says Rhea Gaardboe Dall, Curator at Kunsthal Charlottenborg. Another difference between U-Turn and Copenhagen Art Festival is that “with this event we want to build a continuum,” continues Rhea. From now on, Copenhagen Art Festival is scheduled to take place every four years, becoming a quadrennial. 

This year the Copenhagen Art Festival emphasized artists and artist groups whose works debate and rethink the potentials of community in the 21st century. Globalisation, political uprising and changes all over the world, environmental challenges and economic crises, new communication technologies and production methods, all of these impact our sense of belonging and contribute to forming new communities. As the organisers of the festival explain, “Contemporary artists have been quick to respond to the shifting nature of communities in our times, and at the festival the participating artists give their different takes on the conditions, challenges and opportunities that exist for communities today.” is offering a selection of a few must-see exhibitions, that are still on view.

Public Space/ Special Projects
Lars von Trier (DK) “Gesamt”
Until September 6, 2012

Lars von Trier, the uncompromising Danish film director, has set the rules for the project “Gesamt”, an artfilm for which people from all over the world are being asked to submit material. The Copenhagen Art Festival is about communities, and the user-generated film project “Gesamt” will precisely explore what happens when we interact with one another. For the participants, the challenge is to be inspired by six artists and six works – which have been carefully selected by Lars von Trier, and to film up to five minutes of material, which then should be submitted to Lars von Trier and the Danish film director Jenle Hallund, who will be responsible for the final film. Technical skills are not the biggest priority — originality and enthusiasm are much more important. Deadline – September 6, 2012.

“Gesamt” will premiere on October 12, 2012, at Kunsthal Charlottenborg in Copenhagen.

Public Space/ Special Projects
Listen to Your City – Listening to Art: A Tower Full of Sounds*
Knippelsbro, the South Tower, and outdoors – on the bridge
September 3 – November 4, Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 5 pm 

On Knippelsbro Bridge, and in and around its two towers, the German sound-art specialist Georg Weckwerth has gathered together sound installations, sound and space compositions, mixed media and multimedia works that have been created by 30 different artists. A different kind of sound arises in the transit-space, where the traffic flows by and the sounds of the surroundings can no longer be distinguished from each other. The never-before-heard sounds cause the city – which has been drowned and, paradoxically enough, almost silenced in life and noise – to speak once more in a new way. Weckwerth bases his work on his wish to create holistic universes, and readily includes film, video, photos, sound and theatre. 

*dedicated to John Cage (1912–1992)

Exhibition/ Charlottenborg
Joachim Koester (DK) “If One Thing Moves, Everything Moves”
Until December 30, 2012

Charlottenborg was founded in 1883 in the heart of Copenhagen, and has always been a place where artists have come to make statements on the public stage. Joachim Koester’s exhibition is the artist’s largest project to date in his home country, and is a survey of his works from 2005 to 2012, including film, photography and installation, and exploring subjects such as forgotten histories and altered states. The exhibition is staged as a grand immersing environment, conceived in collaboration with the artist. The use of the body to channel a tradition or concept, and thereby to understand or promote it, has been a recurring theme for Koester. A large number of the works in the exhibition reflect the artist’s interest in how the body might become such a vessel – whether through ritual, drugs, magic or other means – and thereby might help us to understand alternative social possibilities.

September 12, Charlottenborg, 5 pm – Book Launch
November 7, Charlottenborg – Auditory awakening of Joachim Koester’s exhibition in collaboration with CPH:DOX

Exhibition/ Charlottenborg
Ruth Ewan (UK)
Until December 30, 2012 

Scottish artist Ruth Ewan’s exhibition centres on a major new commission involving a unique archive of contemporary musical instruments, and is accompanied by a series of performances by an extraordinary, improvised orchestra. Like many of Ewan’s works, the archive of musical instruments reflects the artist’s interest in the capacity of music 
to act as a progressive social force – and how alternative histories of music and society might be preserved for the future.

Exhibition/ Nikolaj Kunsthal
Until October 21, 2012

At Nikolaj – Copenhagen's Contemporary Art Centre, which is located in the former Church of St. Nicholas (Nikolaj) – a number of internationally acclaimed contemporary artists focus on the communication between individual and community. How does the individual make himself or herself heard in the community? And how does the community impart its values to the individual? Nine contemporary artists present works reflecting, subverting or pointing to alternatives to our usual ways of expressing ourselves and communicating with each other. 

Kutlug Ataman (TUR), Mohamed Bourouissa (F), Dias & Riedweg (BR/CH), Lise Harlev (DK), Otto Karvonen (FI), Katarzyna Kozyra (PL), Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (MEX/CAN), Manifest.AR (var. nationalities), and Superflex (DK). 

Exhibition/ GL STRAND
“Unfinished Journeys”
Until November 11, 2012  

This exhibition sheds light on “the journey” as a characteristic feature of the modern world and its influential impact on how we, as people, interact with each other in an ever-expanding world without borders. It examines the journey as an existential feature and how it has shaped our ways of living – both in terms of the negative effects of globalization in matters of migration and colonization, and in contrast, its effects on the mental state of mind within the context of cultural identity development. “Unfinished Journeys” includes a spectacular array of Danish and International artists, in which each artist individually works with the travel motif in a variety of different forms of expression.

ARTISTS:  Yto Barrada (MAR / FR), Isaac Julien (United Kingdom), Sofie Hesselholdt & Vibeke Mejlvang (DK), Kimsooja (KOR), Damián Ortega (MEX), Song Dong (CHN), Pascale Marthine Tayou (CMR), Vladimir Tomic (BIH/ DK).