København or Copenhagen in English – hereby abbreviated to KBH – has multiple mainstream museums as well as countless small, underground galleries to keep tourists, travelers and locals filled with history, art and architecture. If it is the outdoors you prefer, the streets of the city from Sønder Boulevard to Nørrebro are covered with the grass routes equivalent: street art. There is no end to the places one can find great creativity at work in KBH.
Here is where I got my fill:
V1 – Kødbyen, Flæsketorvet 69
Enter V1 and you walk up to the Kasse and ask the attendant how much it is to look around. Yet, the cashier is simply the owner and his assistant’s office. The building is an old butchers shop, and customers would have placed their order and paid where the gallery owner now masterminds which artists will be next to adorn the walls that were previously splattered with the blood of cows and pigs being butchered and made into pølse.
The contrast between the contemporary art and the sterile white tiles (very little has been added or taken away from the original unit) feels makeshift and unusual. But it sure as hell works. The stairs lead down to more gallery space, enclosed by the doors of industrial thickness that would have kept the meat refrigerators at optimum temperature: the kind of place you can imagine bodies being hidden away in for Sara Lund to discover.
The space is small and is currently exhibiting a moving and thought provoking photo exhibition – Litmus Test: Fotos from Russia – by Beautiful Losers artist Ed Templeton. Black and white photographs exude emotion and quotations from Dostoevsky, Nabokov, Putin and Lenin are hand written in red ink around them. Such subject matter was all the more meaningful for my then imminent journey to the former USSR days later. Another Beautiful Losers artist Thomas Campbell has his sculptures and paintings on display, too. Even more poignant was the fact that I had first encountered and been amazed by the Beautiful Losers band of artists when I first saw the eponymous documentary eighteen months earlier in Seoul: a city which KBH reminds me of in many subtle ways.
Galeri Bo Bjerggaard – Kødbyen, Flæsketorvet 85A
Next door to V1 and up one floor lies Galeri Bo Bjerggaard – different feel, different art and very different owners. Bjerggaard is light, airy and modern with stark white walls that are the backdrop for Austrian born Eva Schlegel’s installations and paintings and those of Janaina Tschape. Schegel’s work is very Anish Kapoor: powdered red paint pigments, smooth curves, mirrors and glass. All her work on display here is brilliant, especially Untitled (2012) – a video of written musings projected onto a giant rotating propeller.
One doesn’t need to be a psychoanalyst to see Meese is his own brand of loco. Chaotic, lewd and colourful is his work. Perfect interior design for a toilet in the meat-packing district with a view onto the railway track.Where Bjerggaard really blew me away was in the toilet… so to speak. What was meant to be a quick visit to empty a small bladder turned into a good fifteen minutes in a whole other mini-gallery, this time curated and created by German artist Joanthan Meese.
Cisternerne – Søndermarken
Situated next to the zoo and Frederiksberg Have, Søndermarken is my favourite place in KBH to run, walk and reflect (and it stays open all night, too). Underneath the fountain lies the Glass Museum, or Cisternerne (old water cisterns) as it is also known. If dark, echoey, damp places intrigue you this is a hidden treat: well off the tourist trail. In between pillars, under arches and hanging off exposed brick walls is a shining collection of glass art from predominantly Scandinavian artists, entitled Just Before Dawn. Stalactites ooze down from the ceiling: nature imposing its own contribution to the collection.
The pieces themselves are something truly special, and the underground and dripping setting only makes it more stirring.
Cisternerne is not very large, but one would easily be able to spend a long time walking up and down the maze-like vaults catching the works from new angles. Just remember to wrap up warm!
DAC (Danish Architecture Centre) – Strandgade 27
Exhibition space, study space, bookshop, lecture hall and café. The DAC promotes innovation in the design of urban landscapes: one thing KBH has made an art of is turning spaces that might otherwise become eyesores into something useful and attractive. Need a decent gift for an artistic and creative friend? Their bookshop has some excellent options.
This hub of architectural brainstorming has the fortune to be situated on the harbour – perfect eye shot of gems such as the Black Diamond, the Opera House and the must lusted after restaurant Noma, the location of which is in a quiet and secluded little wharf – unassuming and stylish in the sandy-bricked old warehouse style that is particular to many buildings along Strandgade. Now, to get a reservation in time for my birthday….