Where it’s all sculptors and roundabouts
‘Den Frie’ (The Free) was initially founded in 1891 by several artists as a reaction to the art establishment of the time. Charlottenborg was then the self-appointed censor of all Danish and international art popularised in the country and it fell to Den Frie to challenge that dominance. As is often the case, Den Frie, and the strange and wonderful building which is its home, has today become part of the establishment that it sought to challenge. It’s a testament to both the staying power of the enterprise and the irony of time …
This new exhibition RUNDTENOM (Roundabout and, as I understand, the name of a type of bread) represents an opportunity for Den Frie to redress the balance as it hosts a new exhibition by a group of exciting contemporary artists from the collective Skulpteriet (The Sculpture). For the last five years, the artists have been working separately and collaboratively under this banner while providing a stage for both domestic and international sculpture by way of their own independent artist-run exhibition space. Their aim has been to expand their network of sculptors and collectives. Each of the artists have an impressive list of solo and group credits, like Anders Bonnesen, 35, who is one of the most prolific young sculptors working in Denmark today.
“Skulpturiet began as an off-space out here in Sydhavnen in 2008 and later moved to the present location on Store Kongensgade,” explains Bonnesen. “It is run by nine sculptors and two art historians, all from different generations, from Jørgen [Carlo Larsen] who is 58 to Heine [Kjærgaard Klausen], 34. I guess it just grew out of a frustration that contemporary sculpture is somewhat neglected by the commercial galleries.”
A selective glance at the works on show suggest the exhibition promises to be, in the very least, unusual. One sculpture by Heine Kjærgaard Klausen will continue to transform over the duration of the exhibition, with Klausen himself to be seen interacting with his work at the opening event and at various intervals throughout; Jørgen Carlo Larsen’s contribution is a small home, complete with living space, kitchen and sleeping area; Karin Lorentzen’s performances will occur next to Jørgen’s house from a baroque garden maze – and combined, these two installations will form an aviary, filled with live birds.
Those preferring a more sober form of expression will be catered to by Tina Maria Nielsen’s work, which looks to provide a more conceptual counter point.
Given the history of Den Frie, one might assume that the exhibition title ‘Roundabout’ alludes to the way in which the art establishment has a habit of assimilating its challengers, thereby creating new ones like Skulpteriet and thus contributing to a perpetual cycle of new and different art, with each successive movement replacing the last. Or it may have something to do with bread.
“Yes, ‘Rundtenom’ – I guess the closest translation is ‘roundabout’, because ‘loaf’ doesn’t quite cover it,” continues Bonnesen, whose work can also currently be seen in a special interactive exhibition for children at K.Ø.S. in Køge and in a separate group exhibition also opening on April 21 at Møstings Hus in Frederiksberg.
“It relates to the question of whether a sculpture is an autonomous object, something distant that you circle around but never touch, or something more related to us and the environment around us. At least, that’s our reasoning for all this madness.”
Den Frie Udstillingsbygning (Den Frie Centre Of Contemporary Art), Oslo Plads 1, Cph Ø;
Starts April 21, ends June 3;
Open Tue-Wed & Fri 12:00-17:00, Thu 12:00-21:00, Sat-Sun 10:00-17:00;