A lot of sorrow

It is the season for vata. The wind is stronger, the rain is falling and it is getting darker – all of this happens inside your body and mind as well as outside, in the garden, the streets and the woods. I always have to prepare myself for the dreamy days and the mystery of life when the autumn strikes us.

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Yesterday I went to Copenhagen with some friends from Italienska palatset on a kind of study tour. The main reason was to take a look at the brand new art gallery Copenhagen Contemporary, CC, in the old harbor area close to the city center.

CC is a project for one or two years, and after that the city of Copenhagen will make an evaluation and make a decision for the future of Papirøen (The Paper Island). The start program for CC does not look particularly experimental – Ragnar KjartanssonBruce NaumanCarsten Nicolai and Yoko Ono. They are all well-established – Nauman and Yoko Ono almost legends – in the international art world.

But the result is good! (However, CC should have skipped The Wishing Tree Garden by Yoko One on the wharf outside the gallery, it does not fit and feels almost like an anachronistic gesture. And I cannot really figure out why Nauman is given such a big presentation. The only suitable reason is, as far as I can see, his position in the art history – the Nauman-hangar feels just a bit old-fashioned. Nauman is perfect for well-informed nostalgic visitors, probably men with their heydays thirty years ago.) The only Nauman-work that really works is Green Light corridor (1970), an architectural piece with green fluorescent light. And that one is certainly an experience – thanks!

The connection between Kjartansson, Nauman and Nicolai is not obvious – perhaps repetition, persistence and circularity could be considered as their common method, but that is not enough to carry a concept. I prefer to see the three huge presentations as separate exhibitions.

I got really impressed by the German Carsten Nicolai’s Unidisplay, a powerful digital installation/projection reflecting eternity. It is hypnotic, full of graphic forms and audio signals but at the same time simple, an endless archive of black and white patterns.

Ragnar Kjartansson has been one of my favorite artist in Scandinavia for many years. I remember his Scandinavian Pain-project as a kind of high-score. Words like honesty, melancholy and humor pop up in my mind while walking around in the exhibition. The work Scenes from western culture (2015) is one of the most well produced and tight installations I have ever seen: The sound is perfect, the screens are carefully positioned in right angles. It is nine screens (If I recall correctly) with a series of every­day situations, mirroring the Western life, an interpretation of a world of melancholy. It feels like traditional paintings, but without the boring burden of the tradition.

Ragnar Kjartansson, Scenes from western culture

In the other Kjartansson-work at CC, A lot of sorrow (2013),the aging rock band The Nationals plays their bittersweet song A lot of sorrow for six hours non-stop. The result is just liquid, almost divine.

Sorrow found me when I was young || Sorrow waited, sorrow won.
Cause I don’t wanna get over you. || I don’t wanna get over you.

The Nordic melancholy will always be one of my best friends, perhaps a way of living for the minds of my kind.