The Spring Exhibition 2017
Our relationship to art is sustained by our desire and need for a realm where anything is possible. We want to be surprised, to be affected by both good and evil – we want to see ourselves mirrored in art and its diversity, maybe to keep the idea that something authentic, true and pure (still) exists alive.
The artists in this year’s Spring Exhibition are no exception, and their works clearly show that art is still in demand as a free space for human reflection and reactions to life, to the physical, the spiritual and today not least the digital. The Internet is our source, subject and mirror image, and we apparently feel most secure with the familiar infinity of hours spent online commenting or moralising on the contributions of others. Art, perhaps not surprisingly, is as digitalised as we ourselves have become. The digital medium has a large degree of expressive flexibility, power of abstraction, and scope for playing with the self, the meta-self, and the extra selves we juggle freely in cyberspace. It is a democratic and accessible medium. The craftsmanship we see in works like a detailed drawing, a brilliantly executed painting, or a flawless sculpture is less dominant in this year’s Spring Exhibition, where there are only a few examples of dyed and handcrafted textiles, complex architectural models, or original designs that embrace both aesthetics and functionality. Yet the exhibition’s focus on the electronic and digital is still permeated by longing, by an urge or craving for something that once was and that needs to be refound. The earth, our waterways and the empty plastic bottles that fill them are the focus of numerous artworks this year. Like circuits transporting pollution around the planet, refuse reminds us of our long-past breach with nature – that we live off it and in it, but not with it.
A similar sense of loss echoes in other works too, where many of this year’s artists are occupied by semi-religious and mystical phenomena. A longing for something authentic combined with a paradoxical awareness that the point at which that was possible is long past – overwhelming spiritual longing with visions of downfall or doomsday. Dark music, dark stills, adulterated and awkward, clumsy figures. In these works we see a focus on the physical collapse of the planet, the sea, the world, the solar system – and of the mental collapse that takes place when the individual is no longer able to sustain their intake of chia seeds or number of likes. Simultaneously tormented and spoilt, the problems of the West reside in the self, not in Aleppo or even Trump’s USA. A recurrent theme of the exhibited works this year is the exposure of selfie culture as a co-dependent subculture we have collectively agreed to hold on to. This year’s artists are active observers of the phenomenon, and hardly disappoint in the realm of staging the self themselves.
The jury responsible for reviewing and selecting the works in the exhibition are unanimous. Our focus has been on quality and potential. The pool of candidates for the Spring Exhibition clearly demonstrates that art as a space for reflection is still alive, and that on the whole the realm of art continues to be diverse and open, with an increasing focus on the media of film and photography.
On behalf of the 2017 jury, Hanna Nilsson (S), Torben Ribe (DK), Stig L. Andersson (DK) and Line Clausen Pedersen (DK), I welcome you to the 160th Spring Exhibition. The jury hopes visitors will find both pleasure and joy in this year’s selection of artists and delve into the many forms art can take in the year 2017.
By Line Clausen Pedersen