in Marginalia

[updated] The state of the Danish avant-garde

In today’s issue of Danish newspaper Information, Matthias Wivel writes about contemporary experimental comics in Denmark, as well as the changing cultural perspective on the form – and yes, if reports are correct my name is checked. My translation of the blurb:

Comics have become high culture
New comics are renewing in subject matter; experimental, innovative, expressively abstract, and move from the narrative toward more musical and lyrical patterns. After 200 years as low culture, comics have become avant-garde.

The article opens with a sample from Signe Parkins’ excellent work before tracing the factors that lead to the current cultural state of grace – and that’s as much as I can offer at the moment as the piece is behind a subscription wall, but I’ll surely update here when I get a copy of the newspaper…

[Update – got hold of the actual review. For promotional reasons, and probably legal ones too, the following is excerpted and translated:]

…contrary even to most abstract comics, it is rarely a matter of actual sequence – there is no sense of development over time between the panels. Instead, they adamantly insist on the form.

A variation of ink, acrylics, monotype and different sorts of collage are stylistically and beautifully ordered to a system. There is swinging, scratching and erasing; glueing, folding, cutting, and printing. In between references to life behind the art emerge as fragments of envelopes and shipping labels with the artist’s name and address, or as photographs in which actual objects can be gleaned. “LEGATER” [“GRANTS”] is stamped on a pale yellow piece of paper, constricted on all sides; elsewhere, a strong red patch bleeds through the panels, resting like a slate wiped clean over a night-lit, photographically represented chamber.

As implied by the title, it is about the structures and shapes behind the narratives we create in our lives. The self-reflection is obvious. It is uncannily stringent on an aesthetic level, with an emphasis on the uncanny: in the more expressive sequences, feelings are suggested but never allowed to be released. Sad, frustrating and beautiful.

To everybody’s surprise this dense, indefinable, challenging (and barely promoted) work is still available from the publisher and from the artist.


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