22 March to 1 September 2019
Donna Huanca grew up in Chicago. Her parents are Bolivian and she studied in Houston, in Maine at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and Städelschule für Bildende Künste in Frankfurt and she now lives and works in Berlin. This is her first solo exhibition in Scandinavia.
The title, Lengua Llorona, means ‘crying tongue’.
There are sixteen oil paintings on a monumental scale, set away from the gallery walls and at angles to create secondary spaces as you move around the works, and smaller painted-steel sculptures - cut out in complex silhouettes - are set in front of or alongside the larger works. Colour bleeds on to the walls in places and areas of white sand across the floor are shaped and moulded with delicate ephemeral patterns, so this site-specific show occupies the space in an intriguing and very complex way.
Through the gallery there is the scent of Palo Santo - from a holy South American tree and used for cleansing rituals.
There will be a seres of eight performances in the exhibition space during the exhibition period with models decorated with paint and textiles as living paintings.
The Needle and the Larynx
Faint with Light
Copenhagen Contemporary 8 February to 26 May 2019
This is the first solo exhibition in Scandinavia by the London based artist and is performance art without the artist present as Marianna Simnett is central to both works.
I found the Needle and the Larynx disturbing but that is a confession and not a criticism because a key role of the artist is to challenge our perceptions and easy complacency. The uneasiness was not because I am queasy about needles - I am not - but this is presented as the grimmest of a Grimme’s style fairy story told as a voice over about a young girl who threatens and punishes a surgeon because she wants him to make her voice deeper. The film is of Simnett herself having Botox injected into her larynx to stiffen the vocal chord so that the vocal range is restricted and the voice drops. It is actually that disjunction between the tale, performed like a black bed-time story, and the clinical calm of the injection process that seems shocking.
Faint with light is in a separate gallery - a darkened space where a bank of long light tubes set horizontally respond to the breathing pattern of the artist as she hyperventilates until she faints when the breathing becomes slow and calm and the light patterns subside. The effect is hypnotic and very powerful … the effect of hyperventilating is obvious both in the sound track and in the visual light patterns but here there is absolutely no story or narrative so no reasons are given … this is a highly dramatic act of sound combined with the most simple and abstract use of space and light that again sets up a challenging disjunction. Here it is perhaps not the act itself - of collapse and recovery - that is shocking but that this is on a never-ending loop. There is no respite.