CHART Art Fair, opens this week, starting Friday, August 31, and on view through Sunday, September 2. Hosted at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Kunsthal Charlottenborg in Copenhagen, this is the sixth edition of the fair.
In advance of the opening, Whitewall sat down with the fair’s new director, Nanna Hjortenberg to chat about the rising Nordic contemporary fair. This year, CHART has expanded its collectible design presentation and exhibition platform with Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, in addition to offering a bespoke program of architectural installations talks and performances.
WHITEWALL: The sixth edition of CHART art fair opens this week. Do you expect more international visitors this year?
NANNA HJORTENGERG: I see the interest rising as both the museums and galleries in Copenhagen schedule some of their best shows in coordination with the opening of CHART. This year, for instance, SMK—the National Gallery of Denmark, will open an exhibition with the Danish artist Danh Vo, making it his largest exhibition in Denmark following his solo presentation at The Guggenheim in New York earlier this year.
Last year we had visitors from 24 different countries at CHART, which I think it speaks for itself.
WW: It is your first year as director of the fair. What is your global vision and do you have specific goals for the fair in the long term ?
NH: This year we are launching CHART Design as a fair with its own venue. I look forward to welcoming 12 Nordic design galleries to join our 32 art galleries. At CHART Design you will meet an interesting range of collectables ranging from modernist furniture—the essence of Danish and Nordic design—alongside new, contemporary design objects.
To me, this is a very natural expansion of CHART and one I’ll put immense amount of energy into moving forward. Another part I wish to strengthen is our focus on architecture which we have been working with for the past years. I think the dynamic and creative exchanges between art, design, and architecture is deeply rooted in our Nordic genes and I look forward to explore new ways for the three disciplines to continuously challenge and strengthen one another.
WW: I noticed that the great majority of the art exhibitors are Scandinavian. Is the ambition of the fair to keep a Nordic identity or does it want to expand internationally?
NH: CHART was founded in 2013 by five Danish gallerist with the dream to gather the Nordic art world in Copenhagen and invite an international audience to visit. The idea, which I think has already proven to be a success, was to explore new ways of being an art fair and to integrate into the city and creating an positive impact on and awareness of art in the local community.
I also think the development has shown, that the art world, and design world for that matter, is not an enclosed national or even regional thing. We are living in a highly international culture, where Danish galleries present international artists at CHART. In that regard I don’t think it makes sense to only present Nordic art.
Where I see the reason to hold on to a special Nordic identity is in the way we do things. The galleries present in unison, CHART has a huge public programme which everyone can join. We aim for a very high standard in everything we do, but we also want to be a casual and fun place to visit. A place where international artists and young students can meet at a talk and exchange ideas.
WW: Are you seeing Scandinavian museums or collectors at the fair supporting its growth and the local art market?
NH: We do experience a lot of support from the Nordic collectors and institutions towards the ambition of CHART and the idea of creating an international destination for the arts in the Nordic region. They visit us every year, we collaborate with institutions and partners outside the fair, among others, Designmuseum Denmark and SMK.
An international perspective is also key. We work with international curators on our public program, for example, with London-based ArtReview on our talks series and Helga Christoffersen, Associate Curator at New Museum, New York, on our “Emerging” exhibition.
WW: Do you think the fair has contributed to create a dynamic around the local artistic scene?
NH: One a very local level, it has helped open up the Danish Academy of Fine Arts and the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, our two neighbors, and have shown that you can actually host an art fair and a large cultural event inside an academy.
On a more national or perhaps even regional level, CHART has contributed to the strong debate we are having across the Nordic region in recent years about the level of public support to the arts; especially within the museum scene. Here I think the business model of CHART with a strong mix of private sponsors and public money has proven to be a possible future scenario.
I think that our strong support from private foundations represents something unique in the Nordic countries. Foundations such as The AP Møller Foundations, who support our focus on emerging artist, or Realdania, who supports our architectural program are our strongest, make it possible for us to open the fair up and engage not only a selected group but also invite the general public and young students to experience the contemporary art scene. The strong commitment from the foundations help generate the public money from both government and municipality.