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The 2017 Winner Rodo Abdirahman

Since its beginnings 160 years ago the goal of Kunsthal Charlottenborg has been to give a significant number of artists the opportunity to show their works in a wider context. The original galleries are wide and open – also metaphorically speaking – as once again the Spring Exhibition invites experienced as well as inexperienced artists to show their work. A flexible exhibition forum that celebrates concept, skill and potential – all in a format that facilitates the artistic vision as something that defies definition and is largely formed beyond or between established styles and schools of art. Traversing national and geographical borders, autodidactic and unpredictable manifestations abound – manifestations that are both universal and highly personal, the contemporary relevance of which is precisely their articulation at the invisible junction between the collectively significant and exposed, awkward self-awareness. Herein lies the potential, and herein the effort this year’s jury have chosen to highlight and reward in choosing the winning artist from among five finalists.

The young artist Rodo Abdirahmans video work ‘Opskrift (opskriften)’ defies categorisation, drawing its artistic force from its rejection of genre and courage to neither moralise, comment on or even take responsibility for the presentation of the artwork as an artwork. A young woman folds her clothes again and again, puts them on and takes them off unendingly, constantly intoning what she should and should not do. “You should not hang out with the in crowd, see the right exhibitions, drink the right bubbly from the store”. The delicate female voice bites off the endings of her own words, rushing on, unsure yet determined. The rhythm takes hold, despite the fact that the scene is filmed in the neon glare of a launderette – our sympathy grows, thanks to our willingness to tolerate the nervousness of the narrator. Raw, humiliating, unfiltered and immensely fragile, a monologue is issued. It is an inner voice we hear, but it speaks for us all in portraying the confusion surrounding how best to stage the self and meta-self on Instagram and Facebook, or the anxiety about slipping up by attending the ‘wrong’ art receptions.

The award goes to Rodo Abdirahman for her artistic courage in letting her statement stand unadorned. For the rawness of her style in creating an unedited portrait of our age as a paradoxical mix of extreme self-promotion and subsequent humiliation if it falls through. About carefully choreographed existences on social media and in real life, about the need to belong and be acknowledged through apparently spontaneous actions – just to keep the fear of being an outsider at arm’s length: the constant dilemmas in arenas like Instagram or the art scene. Which art exhibitions to go to, which not? Whether to wear the veil, or not?

We present Rodo Abdirahman with the award for the potential she shows in an artistically promising video statement, and hope it will serve to draw more attention to this young artist’s work and encourage her to continue to develop as an artist.

By Line Clausen Pedersen