Starting your holiday break this week already and need something to do with your free time? There's just a few days left to see John Herschend's fantastic show at Steven Wolf before it closes on Thursday. Also known for co-founding THE THING Quarterly, Herschend here continues a story about his being absolutely positively certain he returned a copy of Don Quixote to a coworker while she is certain he did not. He cleverly elucidates obsession and the truthfulness of the storyteller through an installation in the gallery that includes paintings, office furniture, and PowerPoints. The exhibition also features a hilarious video in which a character from Herschend's narrative busts into a supposed film shoot high on a hill in San Francisco. For more of John Herschend's sense of humor also do not miss the series of videos he helped create for the Oakland Museum of California, Nothing Happens for Long.
A few weeks ago I spent a short vacation in the fabulous city of Copenhagen, my first visit there but certainly not my last. If you'd like to see the complete set of my pictures from the trip click here, or go here for some of the video I grabbed. Otherwise below please find 11 things I loved about Copenhagen, in no specific order.
1) Danish food People are not kidding around when they say some of the best cooking in the world is going on right now in Denmark. Despite being on a tight budget I had some spectacular meals including modern smørrebrød (open-face sandwiches) at Aamanns, various roots and dark rye bread and deconstructed apple cake in a jar at Madklubben, and the amazeballs feast you see above hot off the buffet at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art's cafe. I also started each morning with a coffee and a pastry from bakery chain Lagkagehuset. I still dream of those pastries.
2) Statens Museum for Kunst This being Denmark's national gallery I spent the bulk of my time here soaking up the recently rehung Danish and Nordic galleries that display art made between 1750 and 1900. My old faves Munch and Hammershøi are nicely represented, but I was also blown away by many of the artists who were new to me like Abildbaard (that's his Wounded Philoctetes above), Eckersberg, Købke, Ring, Willumsen, and more. Their French collection is also excellent, but sadly the rest of their European paintings had also just been rehung and weren't open to the public until after I left the country.
3) Rosenborg Slot Once a royal residence, this castle/palace is literally filled from top to bottom with several hundred years of regal memorabilia including all manner of furniture, tapestries, porcelain, and portraits. The real treat however is past the guards and down in the basement, where the crown jewels and various other precious items sparkle and shine.
4) Danish design I've always been a sucker for the Danish design aesthetic, and being surrounded by it 24/7 really was a kind of heaven for me. Every single item so carefully thought out, from cutlery to clocks, and so simple and easy to use. The Kunstindustrimuseet has rooms upon rooms of items I would very much like to put in my own apartment, and I also was very inspired at the Dansk Design Center as they detailed the philosophies that go into creating products and systems that seek to make life better for everyone.
5) Rundetårn I'd heard Peter the Great had once ridden his horse all the way to the top of this tower, which also houses the oldest functioning observatory in Europe (built for Tycho Brahe!), so naturally I had to climb it too. You can see all the way to Sweden when you're up above the rooftops, and I was treated to a gorgeous sunset besides.
6) Tivoli Gardens I walked past Tivoli at least twice a day going to and from my hotel, and I never got tired of seeing their elaborate Christmas decorations all atwinkle. The amusement park was all set up for the holidays with a Russian-themed Yule fair and also plenty of opportunities to warm yourself up with gløgg and aebleskivers. I'm afraid I didn't attempt any of the rides however. They looked terrifying.
7) Christiania Before Occupy there was Christiania, an alternative community founded in 1971 when squatters with some funny ideas about communal living and recycling and such took over an old military barracks. Technically its land is now slated for government redevelopment, but inside its walls the community still seemed just as alternative as could be. Punk kids intermingled with parents taking their kids to the onsite playground, a restaurant served inexpensive veggie cuisine, and the scent of pot wafted from many an open doorway. There were huge signs everywhere prohibiting photography (probably due to said drugs) so the above picture taken right outside one of the gates is the only representation I have of the amazing street art decorating every available surface.
8) The Royal Ballet Though I sadly didn't make it out to hear any live music, I did treat myself to a night at the Opera House. The Royal Danish Ballet (accompanied by a full orchestra) performed a program of work originally choreographed by Jerome Robbins, including some of his more playful and experimental pieces. They ended with an entire suite from West Side Story, and the Danish woman next to me burst into tears during the finale of "Somewhere." It was adorable.
9) Nationalmuseet Thousands of years of Danish history crammed into one museum, from Stone Age burials to Bronze Age instruments to the first Danish coin to a 1960s housing estate living room. The ground floor that covered Danish prehistory and the Vikings had some of the best exhibition design I've ever seen too, with artful arrangements of artifacts and ambient noise playing in some of the rooms that made me feel like a bog person was about to tap me on the shoulder. I also loved the third floor, housing a small but mighty collection of historical pieces from all over the world.
10) Nørrebro There was one evening when I'd been in the city for almost a week when I started to genuinely imagine a life for myself in Copenhagen: my edgy gallery in the meatpacking district, my evening walk home with a stop at the covered market for fresh groceries for dinner and then over the bridge to the Nørrebro neighborhood with its well-dressed hipsters and cute shops, where I'd light a candle in the window of my cozy little flat above the local veggie cafe. A woman can dream.
11) Louisiana My last full day in Denmark I took a train up the coast to this beautiful museum by the sea, a building that interacts perfectly with its natural setting and that is also chock full of modern art. I saw special exhibits by Ai Weiwei and Vija Celmins, stood in Yayoi Kusama's star box, and spent at least half an hour watching a string of Pipilotti Rist's videos. Yeah I've got to go back.
Lena Wolff, from her current show at Traywick Contemporary
Stuff and things:
The 2012 Headlands residents have officially been announced, and holy balls it's going to be a good year out there. I'm sure most people will notice William Powhida's name on the list, but I'm actually most excited about local peeps like Emma Spertus, Zachary Royer Scholz, Christian Nagler, Dohee Lee, Chinaka Hodge, and more. Next year is also Headlands' 30th anniversary, and they're promising many new programs and "celebratory moments" throughout the year. Are you a member yet?
Scout Niblett was raw female power at the Hemlock last week, hailing down the spirits with her voice. See her video for "Kiss" with Will Oldham here and then buy her 2001 debut album Sweet Heart Fever if you don't already own it.
I also highly recommend making an appointment to see Lena Wolff's show Another Country at Traywick Contemporary before it closes this weekend. Her work references nature and the cosmos, geometry and crafting, and she uses cut paper to mesmerizing effect. The exhibition space is one of the beautiful in-home galleries the Bay Area does so well, and while you're there also check out the Visitors group show co-curated by Wolff with pieces by the likes of Tammy Rae Carland and Amy Rathbone. The gallery is conveniently located just off Solano so you can go get a burrito at Cactus afterward too.
Errol Morris's latest documentary Tabloid is just as entertaining as I had hoped it would be, unfurling the tale of the infamous Joyce McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming who may or may not have kidnapped her Mormon missionary boyfriend, and the hullabaloo she kicked off in the British dailies. McKinney tells her side of the story, the tabloids tell theirs, and then Morris leaves the viewer to decide where the truth lies. Of course now McKinney is suing Morris over the film.
And my live music pick for the upcoming week: the Scott Kelly shows at the New Parish Wednesday 12/14 and at the Brick & Mortar Thursday 12/15. Jay Munly of Slim Cessna's Auto Club joins him on the bill both nights.
Leslie Shows, from her current show at Haines Gallery
I've been taking some time to recover after spending the week of Thanksgiving in Copenhagen, but soon I should have my pictures sorted out and then will do a proper post about the trip besides (sneak peek a video here). In the meantime I wanted to post a few quick links from some of my recent art and culture intake.
Leslie Shows: Split Array at Haines Gallery. Shows is already one of my favorite local artists, and she pushes herself forward into another dimension in this exhibition of new work, creating paintings on reflective metal with complex geological layers. Next Wednesday 12/14 she and BAM/PFA director Lawrence Rinder will be discussing her work at the gallery.
Tania Bruguera's Immigrant Movement International. Bruguera is in the midst of this ongoing project that explores the rights and identity of contemporary immigrants. She spoke at the Kadist Foundation Wednesday night and encouraged everyone to participate in the actions that are being planned for International Migrants Day on Sunday 12/18. She was joined by Adriana Camarena, who read from her essay "The Geography of the Unseen" (included in Rebecca Solnit's book Infinite City) as well as from newer stories she has been collecting on the streets of the Mission.
Thea Farhadian. I saw Farhadian perform at the Luggage Store New Music Series Thursday night, beautiful looped violin compositions that merged classical Arabic music with noise and electronica. No upcoming shows are listed on her website, but you can check out some documentation of a collaborative project she did with artist Silvina Der-Meguerditchian here.
Frances Stark: the whole of all the parts as well as the parts of all the parts at the Mills Art Museum. Block out an hour and go spend it with Stark's confounding, moving, and very funny video piece, which as it progresses leads you from screen to screen through the length of the whole museum. Major bonus points for including an homage to Lady Gaga's "Telephone" as well as use of online avatars and chat conversations. Stark will be speaking at Mills this Wednesday 12/7, and I would wager she'll incorporate PowerPoint somehow.
Like Crazy. Drake Doremus gives us a film not so much about how inextinguishable love is but rather about how it would often be better if we just got over it when it ends. Move the fuck on, embrace real life instead of fantasy. That's what I took away from it anyway, in between enjoying the scenery shot in London and Santa Monica.
The Headlands First Look party Wednesday 12/7 is going to be killer, cocktails and yummy bites aplenty plus the chance to be the first to hear who next year's residents will be.
Scout Niblett is in town this week, playing Vitus in Oakland Wednesday 12/7 and the Hemlock in SF Thursday 12/8.
And if you don't feel like going out: Errol Morris's Tabloid is available to rent from iTunes and Netflix has about a hundred episodes of No Reservations.