Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dispatches from Denmark

Peter Funch, Joy and Waste, 2011

Two more exhibitions I saw in Copenhagen:

- The Fotografisk Center is hosting Myths of the Near Future - New Danish Photography, a group show of 11 Danish photographers, including household names like Joakim Eskildsen and Jacob Aue Sobol and less internationally established names with really interesting work, like Lykke Andersen, with what I would describe as her conceptual vistas, revolving on the conflict between real and artificial, culture and nature; Peter Funch with his beautifully (and funny) staged street photography, or Astrid Kruse, whose images look like pages from spooky candlelight tales.

Lykke Anderson, Cows #1, 2011

The exhibition itself maybe presents too many names and too little work by each artist (it has around 2 photographs each), but the photographs and the gallery space are definitely worth the visit.

- The Fotografisk Center's exhibition also had two images by Trine Søndergaard and Nicolai Howalt's How to Hunt (above), which last year was released in a book by Hatje Cantz. Howalt was also on show at Martin Asbaek Gallery (I literally saw the last 15 minutes of the exhibition on the closing date) with his latest work Slutninger, images of human ashes after cremation which Howalt photographed to draw a parallel with the dust scattering into space after the explosion caused by the death of a star.

© Martin Asbaek Gallery

The work is presented in its two formats, with very large murals paired with small prints. The images feel very different in the two different formats, and I find the large ones simply far too large, clashing with a physical limited perception of detail (read overblown) when watching the prints from a close distance, while the smaller prints preserve the analogy with the stardust, as no matter how close we look at them them, it always feels like there is more to discover among those constellations of human remains.

Nicolai Howalt, Slutninger nr 3, 2011

Or maybe this dichotomy is exactly what Howalt wanted to show: "When a human being dies, the functions of the organism cease and rigor mortis sets in after a few hours; if the choice after this is a cremation, the body is burned at about 900o. The ash from this, which consists of about two kilos of elements, is at first gathered in a zinc box. An inorganic and non-degradable mass which in terms of the original paradoxically contains an infinity and an independent being in the universe. But if the zinc box is emptied and the elements for example come into contact with soil, they will once more enter into new compounds – in a new cycle."

© Martin Asbaek Gallery

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