Danish Curators Kick-off Denmark In Arts at EXPO Chicago’s Art Week
Denmark’s Cultural Initiative Lands in the Windy City amid Curatorial Exchange
The Denmark In Arts cultural initiative arrived in Chicago last week as Danish curator Kirse Junge-Stevnsborg joined an international group of curators to participate in the 2018 edition of EXPO Chicago’s EXPO ART WEEK. The art week is an annual occurrence that highlights the vast cultural opportunities offered in the Windy City through special exhibitions offered by renowned institutions, museums, private collections, and galleries, creating an extraordinary one-week art scene.
Denmark in New York spoke with Kirse Junge-Stevnsborg about her background as a curator, what makes EXPO ART WEEK unique, and how the publicly-funded Danish art and curating scene differs from the US art scene.
DKNY: Tell us about yourself — how did your career as curator begin and how does it feel to participate in EXPO ART WEEK?
KJS: As a student, I started out working at the Tate Gallery in London and hereafter I worked in a commercial gallery.
Since then I have been working in almost all kinds of art institutions within the contemporary art field.
The last years I have been artistic director at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen. In a few short years, we have transmuted the institution from being threatened by closure to a place characterised by a host of activities and national as well as international collaborations based on generous subsidies from private and public funds and sponsors. We have increased the number of visitors, strengthened our profile as a house of artists with exhibitions of all kinds, upgraded the building with a new basement floor, established a number of long-term collaborations, established a program of events, debates, concerts, design, publications, performances, workshops, etc.
We are always looking for new partnerships and it feels very luxurious to be invited to participate in a curatorial program like the EXPO’s international program, where everything is organised and you get a possibility to explore an art scene from within and behind the scene — something you would never manage to arrange on your own.
DKNY: What can visitors expect from your contribution to EXPO ART WEEK?
KJS: I think that visitors will experience that the EXPO Chicago is a very vibrant week with guest coming from all over the world. My group consisting of 10 international curators were welcomed very generously by all the venues we visited, our presence made the visits, meetings and tours more diverse, and a great opportunity for exchange.
DKNY: What are you looking forward to experience at EXPO ART WEEK?
KJS: I look forward to participate in some very interesting debates and talks and to visit some of the local artists and galleries and art spaces to see and explore the young and active art scene in Chicago. I did, for instance, visit the very exciting venue North 6018. I also visited some of the iconic contemporary art institutions like The Renaissance Society and the Graham Foundation.
DKNY: Why is the US an interesting place to work and how is curating in the US different from doing so in Denmark?
KJS: I think that exhibition curation in the US is much more dependent on a more active, and aggressive, funding structure based on relationships with donors, patrons, foundations. Local as well as national and international actors, collaborators, funds, businesses, and sponsors must feel included in the subsets of the project. My view is that it is natural that a variety of partners and users within a wide range of professional fields are involved and associated in the process of exhibition making, but the Nordic public funding system does the process somehow different and in some ways more easy. We have much of our running budget coming from the state, municipalities, and councils. In the US, the economical relationships are both more strong and fragile and make it a big and also exciting challenge for someone coming from a public welfare model to work within.
Pernille Ramsdahl is the Culture and Public Diplomacy Intern at DenmarkInNY.