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Yayoi Kusama. Dot Obsession, 1998. Installationsfoto fra Les Abattoirs. Toulouse, France

What sort of things can we expect in the art spaces, museums and galleries of Scandinavia this autumn? 0

What sort of things can one see and experience in the art spaces of Scandinavia this autumn, and some even all the way through to the end of the year? Lucian Freud's bodies without “flesh”; Yayoi Kusama's infinite “nothingness”; and Monet in a dentist's office – in Denmark. A sandstorm built by the poetically eccentric Eliasson, all within the four walls of a museum – in Sweden; Finnish artist Jani Leinonen's School of Disobedience – in Finland; and the diamond-encrusted, platinum-cast skull made by the hands of epic showman Damien Hirst – in Norway.


- Louisiana on Paper: Lucian Freud -
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk
September 3 – November 11, 2015

Lucian Freud. Woman with an Arm Tattoo, 1996. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Six years ago, a large exhibition of paintings by Lucian Freud took place at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Now, however, the bodies created by this expert of the human form will be presented without the “flesh-iness” associated with his color-infused brush strokes. The bluish, beige and rusty pale bodies of naked men and women will now be replaced by black and white etchings – still just as unflattering and unaesthetic, still just as “Freudean” – powerful, confrontational, of the kind you just can't ignore.

- Yayoi Kusama: In Infinity -
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk
September 17, 2015 – January 24, 2016

Yayoi Kusama. Photo taken in artist’s studio in Tokyo, in November 2015, during the preparations for the show

In spite of the fact that the mother of legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama knocked over her young daughter's box of paints and told her that she shouldn't bother coming back home with her “smearings”, Kusama is already in the sixth decade of a successfully creative career. Beginning this September, Scandinavia has taken upon itself to show the quintessence of Yayoi's body of work – with a tour of Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki, but firstly in Denmark, at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

When asked about the experience that the Louisiana Museum is hoping to give its viewers, Maire Laurberg, curator of the exhibition, expounds: “The exhibition Yayoi Kusama – In Infinity is a retrospective show which unfolds Kusama’s interpretations of the infinite throughout her career – as a spiritual idea, a cosmological vision, and as a psychological abyss. Her attraction to this big nothingness is fueled by both desire and anxiety. The exhibition presents Kusama’s oeuvre from her earliest sketchbooks and drawings, made in the 1940s and 50s when she was still living with her parents in the Japanese provincial town Matsumoto, over her highly original paintings and installations made in the 1960s when she was part of New York’s avant-garde scene, until the colorful and immersive installation art that characterizes her contemporary work. The show is based on intense research in Kusama’s archive as well as in other collections, and it features many works from the early period which have rarely, if ever, been exhibited before. This includes the unique, early environment Polka Dot Love Room, with polka-dotted mannequins and black-lights. As something quite unique, I also show examples of Kusama’s fashion design originating in the late 1960s, when she established the Kusama Fashion Institute in New York. Kusama’s interest in fashion and design continues to the present day, and the exhibition also includes Kusama’s recent design projects.”

Kusama's retrospective at the Louisiana Museum has been set up in the largest of the exhibition wings (1500 m2). One room after the other has been devoted to a specific moment of artistic development, focusing on such themes as infinity, accumulation, the cosmos, and design. Kusama is currently working on a series of paintings entitled My Eternal Soul – some of which have been made especially for this exhibition – and these have been put on view in the final room of the exhibition.

- Monet - Lost in Translation -
ARoS, Aarhus
October 9, 2015 – January 10, 2016

Claude Monet. Waterloo Bridge (Sunlight Effect), 1903

The AroS art museum in Aarhus will be presenting a selection of works by the most recognized French impressionists, with a third of the exhibition made up of works by the pinnacle philosophical practitioner of this movement – Claude Monet. AroS has decided to put out in the forefront of this exhibition the question of impressionism's meaning in today's world.

The true value of Monet's work has been devalued, having become cliched and a component of the branding mechanism – starting with some of the most scandalous dealings at auction houses, to the ubiquitous T-shirts and coffee mugs found in the gift shops of every museum. Monet has been lost in translation. For their part, AroS reminds its visitors that art is not always the first layer that your eye lands upon – the true meaning of the work rises to the surface only when the viewer is willing to put in a bit of effort.

In the exhibition Monet – Lost in Translation, visitors are transported back to the 19th century, a time when a group of like-minded impressionists was beginning to form, and these young venturers traveled across Europe by steam locomotive and ships to see the world from anew. Viewers are taken to the Paris of that day, and later on, to the gardens of Giverny and the landscapes of Normandy. Having gone through three galleries set up in the style of salons, visitors enter The Black Box part of the exhibition, which reveals a substantial number of Monet's works and the most well-known of the artist's motifs – water lilies, haystacks, the coast of Etretat, London Bridge... The exhibition comes to a close in an improvised waiting room at a dentist's office, for this is where the story of Monet begins and, ironically, ends: Monet's 19th-century painting studio was housed in a building that also contained offices for dental surgery, and nowadays, you'll be hard-pressed to find a dental office whose walls are not covered in Monet prints...

- Today’s Cake Is A Log -
A performative exhibition by Hotel Pro Forma
Kunstforeningen Gl. Strand, Copenhagen
November 6 – 29, 2015

Hotel Pro Forma. OPERATION: ORFEO. A Visual Opera in Three Movements, 1993

The theatrical group Hotel Pro Forma, founded by the flame-haired director, curator and artist Kirsten Dehlholm, turns 30 this year. Over these three decades, the works of Hotel Pro Forma have earned respect and recognition throughout the world as being visually powerful, avant-garde, and perfectly finished. When once asked what drove her to establish the (at the time) recently-formed performance and installation laboratory Hotel Pro Forma, Dehlholm replied: “Images are what I survive on. I literally eat the visual world. And I can never have enough! I'm excited by and interested in combining the unusual with the completely usual. The big with the small. The funny with the serious. Something strange, as if from another world, with the banal! This is exactly what I bring to life with Hotel Pro Forma.” In cooperation with the Copenhagen exhibition hall, Hotel Pro Forma will present the 30-year-essence created by Dehlholm in the form of a performative exhibition.

Copenhagen Art Festival, Copenhagen
Through October 25, 2015

Steinar Haga Kristensen. The Loneliness of the Index Finger (PartII): The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Conceptual State into Stabilized Theatrical Sensibility (Consensus mage), 2015

 As part of the Copenhagen Art Festival, the city's largest art spaces have combined their strengths to present a group exhibition featuring 40 Danish and international artists. Sonia Dermience, the curator of the exhibition, delved into the histories of the buildings housing the city's five most prominent art institutions, and has symbolically “redone” them according to their historic identity. Thus, Kunsthal Charlottenborg has been given the name of The Palace, Nikolaj Kunsthal – The Temple, GL STRAND – The Salon, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art – The Studio, and the Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art is The Exchange. Based on the historic context of each building, the artists have been given the opportunity to interpret the identity of each building. The curator's idea then develops further, to the issues of TRUST or DO NOT TRUST, in which trustworthiness is assigned to a particular art space and the artist responsible for it. One should remember that the works of art exhibited in these institutions of power are mediums of the counter-culture, which are, in fact, only poetic representations of this power. It's paradoxical.

Read in Archive: An interview with Sonia Dermience, the curator of the joint exhibition TRUST 

As the curator of TRUST says herself, one should recall the snake character from Walt Disney's “The Jungle Book ", which tricks the boy into trusting it, only to manipulate him with this trust later on. TRUST is doing the same thing with its audience – it lures them into a certain art space and then tells them a story that each visitor can choose how to interpret, enjoy, or critically analyze.


- Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA 2015) -
A story within a story...
September 12 – November 22, 2015

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. The Work (2015) & Meleko Mokgosi. Modern Art: The Root of African Savages, Addendum (2015). Photo: Hendrik Zeitler

The eighth edition of the Göteborg Biennial will will examine ways in which systems of power have used tactics of amnesic oblivion and silence as a political strategy.

Elvira Dyangani Ose, the curator of GIBCA 2015, has chosen to put at the center of this Biennial the Italian philosopher Umberto Eco's coined notion of “open work”, which describes works that are open to various interpretations. The “open artwork” concept will be utilized both as the principle  behind the Biennial and as the curatorial methodology through which the structure of the Biennial, as a system of power itself, is examined.

This project invites artists, thinkers and producers of culture, along with members of the civilian public and government institutions of Scandinavia and the rest of the world, to take part in various initiatives that rethink history-making and the meaning behind it.

The Biennial's curator wishes to find answers to the following questions: Whether or not we, as individuals and communities, are capable of affecting change in history-making at all? And, if given that opportunity, what will we do? Can we simply make up the past according to our own convenience? Who or what would then be the collective subject of history? Once we have accepted the responsibility of being public intellectuals, narrators of history-making, how do we make what is fundamental to the local, relevant to the universal? How do we inscribe into history the collective memories, personal narratives, inner worlds, stories and protagonists located within the margins of such history? Can those strategies, which are situated within the boundaries of storytelling, challenge and affect history-telling?

Read in Archive: Review by Magnus Bons

The Biennale will focus on artists who interfere with history-making by rescuing events and their protagonists from historical oblivion, and will explore issues of collective memory from transnational and trans-historical perspectives.

- Joan Jonas: Light Time Tales -
Malmö Konsthall, Malmö
September 26, 2015 – October 10, 2016

Joan Jonas. Waltz, 2003. Videostill. Courtesy of the artist

The American pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale, featuring the artist Joan Jonas, was like a breath of clean, fresh air, free of any political polemics, but full of a yearning for peace and the natural state of things – something long not seen as coming from the Americans.

Jonas is an author of books on performance-art theory, as well as one of the first women artists to have combined performance art with video. Since the 60s she has studied the theme of identity and the relationship between the body and its representation. Her artistic language has evolved through dance, experimental film, contemporary music, and Japanese Noh and Kabuki theater. Her works are a combination of personal memories, myths, magic, socialization, poetry and psychoanalysis.

The exhibition at Malmö Konsthall is a salient overview of Jonas' creative body of work spanning from the 1960s to today, and will consist of several video works and four large-scale installations, one of which is a part of MoMA's permanent collection.

- Olafur Eliasson: Reality Machines -
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
October 3, 2015 – January 17, 2016

Olafur Eliasson. Seu corpo da obra (Your body of work), 2011. Test at Studio Olafur Eliasson, 2015. © 2015 OLafur Eliasson. Photographer: Maria del Pilar Garcia Ayensa

While the citizens of Copenhagen can enjoy, in an almost offhanded way, the artistic magic of the famous Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson as part of their urban landscape and a component of the city's infrastructure – by crossing the Eliasson-designed multi-platform bridge in the city's Christanshavn district – Stockholm will have its own Eliasson attraction, too, for a couple of months at least: the opportunity to wander about an architectural labyrinth of color created by the poetically-inclined eccentric artist, as well as the chance to experience a rainbow and raise a sandstorm – all within the four walls of the museum.

Featuring Eliasson's works from the 90s to the current day, the exhibition shows how Eliasson has knocked down the borders between art and architecture.



- Ai Weiwei @ Helsinki -
Helsinki Art Museum (HAM), Helsinki
September 25, 2015 – February 28, 2016

Ai Weiwei. Photo: Gao Yuan

Not only is the Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) reopening with new spaces, but it has also reworked its policy towards visitors so as to be more accommodating. As a result, the written and unwritten rules of the museum have been shortened, and guests of the museum can now experience the museum like never before. On 25 September 2015 the museum re-opened with the exhibition Ai Weiwei @ Helsinki, a solo show by the famous Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. This is the first time that Ai Weiwei’s work is on view in Finland, and in fact, two of the pieces are having their “world premier”.

Read in Archive: An express-interview with the museum’s director, Maija Tanninen-Mattila

When asked about the experience that the Helsinki Art Museum is hoping to give its viewers, Maija Tanninen-Mattila, museum’s director, expounded: “Ai Weiwei @ Helsinki is a retrospective exhibition with the theme of wood. Weiwei has used wood throughout his career, and in Helsinki we will see works representing his use of this material. The new pieces, Garbage Containers and White House, will have their world premiere in Helsinki. In addition to installations and sculptures, there will be some photographs from his Study of Perspective series. These photos were taken by Weiwei when he visited Helsinki 2001.”

- Tino Sehgal -
Through September 27, 2015

- Jani Leinonen: The School of Disobedience -
September 4, 2015 – January 31, 2016
Kiasma, Helsinki

Jani Leinonen. Photo: Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

For its autumn season opener, the contemporary art museum Kiasma has chosen to exhibit three works by Tino Sehgal, as well as the project School of Disobedience, by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen.

In Sehgal’s piece Yet Untitled, a small number of people sit or lie on the ground; they improvise their own music with their voices. Sometimes it's vaguely electronic sounding, or even human beat-box; sometimes it's more like droning, or chanting, and always very rhythmic. They move, evenly, slowly, to this self-generated music. Some movements are dancerly, others less so. Beyond the temporal organization of the music and smooth pacing of the movement, there is an obvious organizational structure. The performers — they are performers, after all — pay attention to each other, clearly responding to movements, gestures or sound.

Sehgal’s work Kiss (2007), exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, was his first work in an American museum. Presented in association with the MCA’s show Collection Highlights, Kiss is a sculptural work—two dancers kiss and touch, eventually resembling embracing couples from historical works of art; the work appropriates the different amorous poses in Auguste Rodin'd The Kiss (1889), Constantin Brancusi's The Kiss (1908), Gustav Klimt's The Kiss (1907–08), Jeff Koons and La Cicciolina's Made in Heaven (1990–91) and various Gustave Courbet's paintings from the 1860s one after the other.

In This Is New (2003), the crude reality of everyday life invades the museum setting, enacted by the staff members at the info desk who recite the day’s headlines. 

Sehgal construes situations like a choreographed production, whereas Leinonen reminds us that society's biggest problem is not disobedience, but rather obedience: the fact that the worst events to have happened in history – wars, genocide, slavery – arose not from disobedience, but from blind obedience. This has led Leinonen to reflect on the ills of society and promote critical thinking; in his “school” of disobedience, which also includes a presentation of his works, Leinonen has invited both Finish and international leaders of thought and activism to read lectures, with visitors to the exhibition playing the role of students.

- Henri Cartier-Bresson -
Ateneum, Helsinki
October 23, 2015 – January 17, 2016

Henri Cartier-Bresson. Leningrad, Russia, 1973. © Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos

In Rome, at the beginning of this year, the public was able to experience a broad retrospective of the works of Herni Cartier-Bresson, the father of photojournalism and a co-founder of the legendary photographic cooperative Magnum. More than 500 objects were on view – photographs, drawings, films, paintings and manuscripts.

Now, in the second half of the year, the opposite corner of Europe will be able to enjoy Cartier-Breson's unmatched ability to capture life's most decisive moments on film – Helsinki's Ateneum art museum will open its autumn season with the 300-piece retrospective of the master photographer's work. The most impressive thing about the exhibition is, of course, Cartier-Bresson's spectacular photographic representation of the 20th-century history he eye-witnessed all over the world. Also included are objects that give viewers a solid view of Cartier-Bresson's personal life and career narrative, such as vintage letters and personal prints. A separate section features photographs Cartier-Bresson shot in Russia.


- Damien Hirst -
Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo
September 16 – November 15, 2015

Damien Hirst. Mother and Child (Divided), 1993. Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012

Well, what do you know, it's really happening! Scandinavia will finally be able to experience For the Love of God!, Hirst's platinum-cast, diamond-encrusted skull. Today's most scandalous, obsessed-with-death showman, Damian Hirst, reminds his viewers about the fragility of life, while Oslo's private Astrup Fearnley Museum reminds us that they have an altogether impressive collection of Hirst's works in hand. Among the works on view will be such iconic works as Mother and Child (Divided) (1993) – a cow and a calf cut into sections and exhibited in a series of separate formaldehyde-filled vitrines, and God Alone Knows (2007) – a triptych featuring three flayed and crucified sheep in three tanks. The organizers of the show comment on the event so: the exhibition presents itself as striking through Hirst's strong and visually immediate works, often through the use of organic materials like dead animals. One of his best works, Mother and Child (Divided), a part of the Astrup Feranly Colletion, is a good example of this. Hirst also uses blood, dead insects, pills or medical equipment in his own visual language and grabs the viewers’ attention trough the shocking and the macabre. But beyond the immediate shock value of these materials, he invites us to reflect upon issues like life, death, science and religion, making it the must-see show in Scandinavia this fall.