Sunday, 30 October 2011

Denmark, again

Evening all! Last night I returned home from my favourite country in the world - Denmark! (wow didn't see that coming.) Cynicism aside, it was brilliant to be back there, even for just a week, and to help explain what my trip consisted of, I've taken a photo of the books and leaflets I collected while there. I'll take you through them quickly:


1. This little, covered up magazine was free at the Fritz Hansen place in Illums Bolighus, so I thought I would pinch one to obsess over in England. Fritz Hansen is a Danish furniture distributor that owns a lot of Jacobsen pieces, and Illums Bolighus is a massive furniture store. Basically, heaven (for me). Dozens of Danish designs and design classics for you to sit in and marvel at the price tags. It's a brilliant shop, if you're into that sort of thing. They also have Vitra, Muuto and Iittala sections. For most people those are just words but for me they mean one thing: awesome design. And mainly Scandinavian too, so I'm not complaining.

2. Next up is another free handout, this time an info leaflet from Arken Museum. Yeah, remember Arken? I visisted it last time I was in Denmark, and returned this year to see what was new. The main exhibition was some Warhol thing, but Warhol annoys me with his imperfections and useless pop culture references, so I gave that about two minutes then left it in search of something a bit more challenging. And I found it - in Olafur Eliasson's experiential piece 'The Blind Passenger' which took up the length of the museum's main hall. Here it is:


Yeah, it's a big box. But it's what's inside the box that counts (book by its cover and all that) - after a scary warning sign on the door, you enter the installation and it's full of fine smoke and atmospheric lights. With low visibility and your hands struggling to find the walls, you walk through the box. You walk through several colours of light, experiencing the artwork and the atmosphere, then emerge out the other end of the box, quite changed. It's a fantastic piece of art and, though it doesn't have anything to say beyond commenting on our senses and experiences, it was worth several visits. Arken is a top-class modern art gallery (ignoring Warhol), it's just a shame they don't change what's on show very often.

3. One of the major finds of my trip to Copenhagen turned out to be something English - the creative review magazine It's Nice That is the publication version of the It's Nice That blog. I've been reading the blog now for over a year, and it's an excellent way to find fresh photography, art and graphic design talent and is brilliantly curated. The magazine - which I spied on the shelf of an Urban Outfitters shop in Stroget (ironic how I find myself buying a magazine I could buy in England in a shop I could buy from in England) - is a bound version of the blog with a few interviews and articles thrown in. It's a great mag, but I think I'll stick to reading the blog because it's quite pricey. I got it on discount, but I wouldn't buy it for its usual ~£10 price. Sorry guys.

4. & 5. As part of my visit, We went to the Danish Design School to talk to an admissions representative to see if I could get in. The result of the meeting was thus: it's gonna be damn hard to get in to the college, but here's some booklets anyway. I'd need to be fluent and pass some Studieproven test, etc etc, so it's not looking good in that respect, but these booklets are great and very contemporary. The work of DDS students inside is equally good, of course.

6. Last time I was in the Danish Design Centre, I picked up my design bible - a book about Jacobsen. Second time around, I bought a book about Panton. Might as well bulk out my bookshelves, at the moment they're looking a little too empty of decent design books and a little too full of Wallpaper magazines. This book seems to be a lot more about Panton's design philosophies rather than his life and complete works, but I don't mind, I'm not such an avid fan of his work as I am Jacobsen's.

7. I also returned to Det Kongelige Bibliotek - the royal library - and its extension, the Black Diamond (yeah, remember?) to sample some coffee and some photography. I hit gold with the library's current exhibition, a collection of urban sets by Gregory Crewdson, the centerpiece: Beneath the Roses, a set about the loneliness and dischord of suburban American life:


The photography has a similar perspective to the stories of Raymond Carver (who I've recently studied and appreciated in my English class), and the paintings of Edward Hopper (ie. Nighthawks, which I love), so it's no wonder this exhibition was music to my ears (in a photography way). The set Beneath the Roses, especially, drew out the bland anonymity of 70s American suburbia... remind you of anything? A certain album I have obsessed over? Yeah, though the set is not totally similar to The Suburbs, they have common ground. Just another coincidence about this exhibition. Yeah, I loved it.

8. The final thing in this photo (yeah, scroll back up to see it) is a bit of a strange one. And a boring one to most of you. Because, recently, I've become drawn to postmodernism, the design, art and architectural style of the 70s, 80s and early 90s, the time when designers etc. put a middle finger up to dull modernism and tried something different. Normally, I'd hate postmodernism, but I'm beginning to appreciate its justifications and reasons (mainly the emergence of the inefficient, thoughtless boilerplate modernism in the 70s) - though I still don't like the work itself. This book should help with my understanding of postmodernism, or at least that was my thinking.

And that's it! That was Denmark! Oh yeah, one final thing: when I was there, I turned a corner and bumped into one of my favourite buildings, Jacobsen's Danmarks Nationalbank. I always thought it was placed somewhere out in the Danish countryside, or in a Copenhagen suburb, but it turns out it was right in the city centre. It's got an acute angle on this corner, which stops it being as boring as it might be with a right angle, which was good to see. Jacobsen, you jammy dodger.


~John

1 comment:

Karrde said...

auugh you get to do carver for AS english, you lucky sod