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Report on Copenhagen

The 2010 Carnegie Art Award for Nordic art at the Kunsthal Charlottenborg offered a chance to compare new art from the Nordic countries with art being made in Canada. Like a lot of young Canadian art, there was strong work but much of it felt familiar, unsurprising and safe.

Tone Kristin Bjordam, Liquid Landscape. Image: idfx.nl

But much of it was also beautiful, like Tone Kristin Bjordam’s video Liquid Landscape showing drops of coloured ink spilling into water upside down like rainbow-hued mushroom clouds, and a spatially fragmented video/object piece by Egill Saebjornsson that was good, but less complex than David Rokeby’s excellent Giver of Names.

Egill Saebjornsson, Three Bottles, 2008. Image: artnet.com

David Rokeby, Giver of Names, 1990- . Image: furtherfield.org

There wasn’t much public art of note in Copenhagen, but the architecture more than made up for it. Jean Nouvel’s concert hall is incredible. It’s amazing that a city would be so architecturally brave and it makes VoCA wonder why Toronto doesn’t place more importance on design excellence.

Jean Nouvel’s amazing fabric-covered concert hall. Image: bdonline.co.uk

More proof that Copenhagen is architecturally brave: Olafur Eliasson, the Danish-Icelandic artist who co-designed the 2007 Serpentine Pavilion and the Tate Modern Turbine Hall’s sun piece among other things, will once more try his hand as an architect. The mayor of Copenhagen, Ritt Bjerregaard, has asked the artist to design a bridge to be built in the heart of the city leading over the Christianshavn Kanal.

Exterior and interior views of Bonvicini’s mirrored toilet. Image: weburbanist.com

We went to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, an art gallery just outside the city where we breezed through a too-text-heavy exhibition on ‘green’ architecture, but we spent lots of time with Monica Bonvicini’s one-way mirrored toilet in the sculpture park. The piece, titled Don’t Miss A Sec, is great fun. And the soaring Calder sculpture that overlooked the sea was perfectly installed.

The Calder sculpture at Louisiana Sculpture Park. Image: courtesy Scott Barker

One Response to “Report on Copenhagen”

  1. Julie says:

    Copenhagen and Denmark at large have a long tradition for design and architecture. One advantage of being an old country is that one can have old traditions! It’s not like Copenhagen woke up one morning and decided to be architecturally brave. They have been for a long time. Even granddads living in the country side have their houses furnished with what some would consider some of the hippest design objects! It’s just a part of the culture here! I certainly hope that Canada will acquire some more great buildings but perhaps wide spread appreciation for contemporary architecture is something that first will need to be acquired over generations…

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