Tuesday, September 9, 2008


My stay in Copenhagen is accidentally well timed to fit in with the first Copenhagen Contemporary Art Biennale called 'U-TURN' . Most of it was in the Carlsberg factory - a huge complex with 19th C buildings and manufacturing plants. The opening had a lot of Carlsberg product of course and an after-party in converted vats where 6 bands played the same song at once. The theme of the Biennale is cultural translation and 'The New Europe'. There were some really strong political pieces (ie Dansk songbooks which told immigrants they would never be Danish by Korean-born artist Jette Hye Jin Mortensen) - I sense that there is a lot more openly political work here than we might see in Australia and New Zealand. (I am also thinking about work in the show at the Copenhagan State gallery called 'Reality Check' which opened last Tuesday.)

Tove Storch's "humming bird" (2007) at the gallery entrance is an illusion of flight created by two images rapidly revolving on a motor in positive and negative. A simple, very effective piece which evokes a nineteenth century optical toy.

Lillibeth Cueneca's dramatic performance 'How to break the Chinese Wall' was a series of re-enactments of performance art from the 1960s performed to a lulling sountrack as she moved rapidly from one iconic performance to the next - seemingly commenting on how the artworld consumes novelty. I thought her performance persona was very captivating, she is originally from Manilla and living in Copenhagen.

One of the other U-TURN venues is the Nicolaj church in the city centre which also will be a venue for IMPACT (the exhibition that results from my residency). Nicolaj had an evocative series of 16mm films translated to DVD installation of Jesper Just -voyages into psychological spaces realised in architectural spaces. The space has an old staircase running through it which leads into the rafters of the church - which dates back to the 13th century.

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