3 December

What were your most memorable art experiences of 2019? Artist and writer Nora Joung gives her bid.

From Alexandra Pirici’s lecture at KODE 1, Bergen. Photo: Volt.

Lecture with Alexandra Pirici at KODE 1, Bergen, organised by Volt

One evening in October, Marie Nerland’s curatorial project Volt arranged a lecture at KODE 1 in Bergen. Bucharest-based artist Alexandra Pirici talked about the working body in the age of surveillance capitalism. Pirici’s extensive performances (“environments”) have been shown at the Berlin Biennale, the Venice Biennale, and Art Basel. The works can involve choreographed bodies either heaped up to become lumps of biomass, or re-enacting canonised works from art history, such as when Pirici and Manuel Pelmuş – currently a research fellow at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts – represented Romania in Venice in 2013. The thorough review of the influence of multinational corporations on the movements and patterns of individual bodies was exactly what I wanted to hear from this artist operating in the field of international performance.

James Ensor, Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889.

James Ensor, Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889, The Getty Center, Los Angeles

Not a speck of dust has settled on Belgian artist James Ensor’s painting Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889 in 130 years. Hung up high at the hugely cash-rich Getty Center in Los Angeles, it seems just about as contemporary as things get. The picture plane seethes with the joy of painting, the fleshy faces of the crowd peer here and there without direction. Set outdoors, where only labourers and the homeless stay for long, the air is filled with exhaust fumes and smoke from yet another forest fire in the tinder-dry landscape. Ecce homo!

Nicolas Ceccaldi, Going to the movies, 2019, installation view. Photo: Haus der Kunst.

Haus der Kunst, Oslo

In August, a full-page advertisement depicting a fool in a top hat draped over a bronze sculpture appeared in the Norwegian edition of the newspaper Le Monde Diplomatique. Very little information was provided: “Haus der Kunst, Laxative for the bourgeoisie.” The cryptic spread turned out to advertise a new artist-run exhibition venue in Oslo, launched by Calle Segelberg and Eirik Sæther. A dive with an international programme, it’s a far cry from the politely polished and anxious quest for professionalism that can otherwise characterise the city’s local art scene.

Nora Joung (b. 1989) is an artist and a regular contributor to Kunstkritikk. She co-runs the exhibition space Destiny’s in Oslo.