AHC x Performa Biennial New York 2023
With a generous donation from the New Carlsberg Foundation, AHC commissioned and invited eight visual artists to feature in the biennial’s programme in a variety of ways: artists with whom AHC has worked with before, was currently working with, or was working with for the first time. The artists were: Søren Aagaard, Jane Jin Kaisen, SUPERFLEX, Ayoung Kim, Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi, Lina Hashim, Kristoffer Akselbo and Hannah Heilmann.
Free beer and communal cooking
Whereas, on account of the pandemic, the 2021 Performa Biennial presented performances in public spaces, this year will see a return to its original structure, showcasing new works by some of the world’s most exciting visual artists under the themes of ‘Food’ and ‘Concept’. Three of the artists AHC invited – Jane Jin Kaisen (DK/KR), Ayoung Kim (KR) and Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi (DE) – presented and talked about their artistic practice at three vegetarian Free Lunches: a well-attended event format that AHC initiated, and has held in Copenhagen over the past three years.
For the Performa opening night on 1 November, AHC organised for SUPERFLEX’s FREE BEER to be served at the gala dinner and at the bar for the after-dinner party. However, the ‘FREE’ of the title does not refer to the fact that it is free, but to the fact that, on the basis of open source technology, the recipe, monogram and labels are available to everyone, thereby questioning the systematic idea of copyright. Brewed by the local brewery Evil Twin, the beer was served throughout the Performa run.
AHC also commissioned the visual artist Søren Aagaard to produce a brand new, audience-involving work: Cafe Zero – a surreal cooking session. The audience was invited to attend the preparation of a menu of locally sourced food products, as performers presented a dystopian kitchen conversation, dressed in uniforms designed in collaboration with the Danish designer Anne Sofie Madsen.
The peak of performance art
As a tradition and genre, performance art originated in the 1960s and 70s, subsequently living a varied and flourishing life in the world of contemporary art. It is a very special, immediate, often boundary-pushing art form, which involves an element of alienation. In a performance, we see bodies performing and speaking, often in unaccustomed places. In Denmark, for many years performance art was a somewhat isolated art form. However, in the past ten years it has undergone a major development, and today there is no denying that performance is an accepted idiom in the Danish visual arts scene, and a natural element in the work of many artists.
For example, one particular AHC initiative Artistic Practice, an international mediation programme for established visual artists, was at the time of the Biennal working with a number of performance artists. So, AHC also invited three of them – Kristoffer Akselbo, Hannah Heilmann and Lina Hashim – to take part in Performa in New York. Each met an esteemed interlocutor in an artist talk in Performa’s Hub on 6 November.
For AHC, the collaboration with Performa was all about providing a variety of artists with new opportunities for development. During the biennial, the artists got the chance to introduce and show their work, experience performative works by other artists from around the world, draw inspiration and expand their network. These are all essential elements, when it comes to boosting an artist’s career and promoting contemporary art.
Performa Biennial 2023 ran from 1 to 19 November. AHC’s Performa programme ran from 1 to 10 November. Read more about it below.
Art Hub Copenhagen’s participation in Performa Biennial 2023 has been generously funded by the New Carlsberg Foundation and the Bikuben Foundation.
AHC ‘S PROGRAM AT PERFORMA BIENNIAL 2023
1 – 19 November SUPERFLEX: FREE BEER
3 November 12.00-1.30 pm Free Lunch Series: Jane Jin Kaisen in conversation with Job Piston
4 November 12.00-1.30 pm Free Lunch Series: Ayoung Kim in conversation with Defne Ayas
5 November 12.00-1.30 pm Free Lunch Series: Thuy Han Nguyen-Chi in conversation with Jacob Fabricius
6 November 3.00-4.00 pm Lina Hashim in conversation with Ruba Katrib
6 November 5.00-6.00 pm Hannah Heilmann in conversation with Jeppe Ugelvig
6 November 7.00-8.00 pm Kristoffer Akselbo in conversation with Anthony Huberman
8 – 9 November at 6.00-10.30 pm Søren Aagaard: Café Zero – A nomadic smoke and fermentation house with no seasons
ABOUT PERFORMA 2023
Founded by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is dedicated to exploring the critical role that performance played in the history of 20th- century art and stimulating new directions in performance art in the 21st century.
“Our mission is four–fold: to award and produce Performa Commissions that result in new live performances by exceptional American and international contemporary artists; to present the three-week international Performa Biennial of live performance featuring these new commissions at venues across New York City every other year; to offer public education programs, exhibitions and produce print publications through the Performa Institute that illuminate the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century culture; and to disseminate performance related content, context and commentary through our archives and digital content channels that reach global audiences.” To see this year’s complete programme and read more, visit performa2023.org
For more information, please contact Head of Communications Stine Nørgaard Lykkebo at firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Søren Aagaard (b. 1980, DK) is a trained chef and artist who works with video, sculpture, performance, and installation art. Especially food and the meal as a temporally and performative event are important parts of Aagard’s practice. Through his interest in specific products and cultural, sociological, and culinary history of different places, Aagaard speaks about phenomena of our time such as climate change, social hierarchies, and the worship of nostalgia and genius in the art and culinary world. Aagaard is educated from The Royal Danish Academy of Art in 2013 and has also studied at Malmö Art Academy. The last five years, he has shown his work and participated extensively in international exhibitions, cooking projects, and film festivals.
SUPERFLEX was founded in 1993 by Jakob Fenger, Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, and Rasmus Rosengren Nielsen. Conceived as an expanded collective, SUPERFLEX has consistently worked with a wide variety of collaborators, from gardeners to engineers to audience members. Engaging with alternative models for the creation of social and economic organisation, works have taken the form of energy systems, beverages, sculptures, copies, hypnosis sessions, infrastructure, paintings, plant nurseries, contracts, and public spaces. Working in and outside the physical location of the exhibition space, SUPERFLEX has been engaged in major public space projects since their award-winning Superkilen opened in 2011. These projects often involve participation, involving the input of local communities, specialists, and children. Taking the idea of collaboration even further, recent works have involved soliciting the participation of other species. SUPERFLEX has been developing a new kind of urbanism that includes the perspectives of plants and animals, aiming to move society towards interspecies living. For SUPERFLEX, the best idea might come from a fish.
Jane Jin Kaisen
The artistic practice of Jane Jin Kaisen is informed by extensive interdisciplinary research and engagement with diverse communities. She is known for her visually striking, multilayered, performative, poetic, and multi-voiced feminist works through which past and present are brought into relation. Engaging topics such as memory, migration, borders, and translation, she activates the field where subjective experience and embodied knowledge intersect with larger political histories. Her works negotiate and mediate the means of representation, resistance, and reconciliation, thus forming alternative genealogies and sites of collective emergence.
Ayoung Kim explores moving images, films, texts, game simulations, and immersive massive installations and is concerned about nationhood, global resources, gender roles, antient myths, and the mystery of our built environment. From the politics of the petroleum trade to investigations into territorial imperialism and historical events that brought Korea onto the international stage, the artist often combines sounds and images to portray narratives that tell alternate stories. An overall frame or category of Ayoung Kim’s work could be Speculative fiction or simply a disruption of reality – within a frame of what could be described as techno-orientalism or Asian futurism. Co-organized with Art Hub Copenhagen.
Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi is a Berlin-based artist whose practice mutates in and out of film, sculpture, installation, performance, and interdisciplinary research. Her work explores the epistemological, aesthetic, and political possibilities of the moving image at the intersections of art and science, documentary and fiction, personal/prosthetic memory, and individual/collective histories.
Kristoffer Akselbo (b.1974) graduated from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2006. He is an associated professor at the Funen Art Academy. His conceptual practice is born out of several years of investigative work with confrontational performances as well as sculptural and installation methods. Akselbo’s works evoke ambiguous feelings of both pleasure, drama, surprise and voyeuristic discomfort: the meeting between the audience and the work is in focus, along with the question of how this confrontation or interaction can evoke affect. Akselbo is preoccupied with the morbid, and regards his work as spatial, psychological ‘sculptures’. Literally as well as metaphorically, Akselbo likes to give a challenging and critical voice to overlooked population groups and society’s most vulnerable. In his installations and performances, he challenges social normativity with both simple and boundary-crossing tools.
Born in Kuwait City in 1978, the artist Lina Hashim lives and works in Copenhagen. She graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2020. A recurrent theme in Hashim’s practice is the investigation and exposure of aspects of Islam that are usually concealed from the public. Her investigations are in no way blasphemous, but are part of a critical, nuanced dialogue with religion. Hashim has said: “If Islam is a play, I want to show what goes on backstage.” In her investigations, Hashim has a two-pronged perspective on Islam: on the one hand, as a woman raised in Islam; on the other hand, as a critical viewer. Hashim’s works also involve a feminist aspect. This is particularly evident in the work Uden vind (No Wind) (2012), which features images of Muslim women’s hair under their scarves. Unlawful Meetings (2014) tackles sexual double standards: partly by demonstrating how the tenets of chastity are much tougher on Muslim girls than on Muslim boys. Suicide Bombers (2016) focuses on the conviction that in paradise female suicide bombers are granted a completely different status than their male counterparts. In her latest work, The Touch (2020), she uses lecture-performance, dance, and installation to tell her own story.
Hannah Heilmann holds a Master of Arts in Art History from the University of Copenhagen and teaches at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. She works primarily with installation, objects, and performance, and has performed at Marselleria, Milano, Manifesta 11, Zürich, SMK – National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen, and the National Gallery of Art, Vilnius. Her work has been presented at ARoS, Aarhus, Møstings Hus, Copenhagen, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Shoot the Lobster, Los Angeles, and EKKM, Tallinn. She co-founded the artistic program space TOVES (2010-2017) and is a former member of the artist group Ingen Frygt (2001-2010). Heilmann uses her performances and works – often made of cheap, ephemeral materials – to explore our relationship to the object and commodity. The body is set against its surroundings, behavior is on a continuum between a sense of value and acquisitiveness, the gallery can take the form of a showroom, and consumption is connected to both desire and shame.
MORE ABOUT AHC’S PROGRAMS
Artistic Practice is a dissemination program for professional, established visual artists in Denmark, who have been groundbreaking and innovative, and who have primarily had exhibition practices in Denmark, but are assessed to have the potential to reach out in an international context. The program is built around a video portrait and a public conversation, which focuses sharply on the individual artist’s practice with the aim of conveying this, and moreover, support and sparring are offered to build an international network.
Free Lunch Series is also a dissemination format, but with a focus on creating exchange between particularly younger visual artists. On selected Tuesdays, the art-interested public is invited to witness an informal conversation with a professional visual artist over a cozy, vegetarian lunch. The artist talks about their practice, their current research or new ideas often in conversation with invited discussion partners.