A boulevard of ceramic tiles, discarded ladies’ shoes, a heap of mysterious love letters and benches that take the form of female figures in provocative positions. With references to bourgeois charity ladies and fishwives past and present Danish visual artist Anna Stahn (b. 1994) both embraces and skews our notions of the economies associated with different women’s lives in Copenhagen. Anna Stahn’s poetic and critical solo exhibition, Walking Debt, can be experienced on the 3rd floor of GL STRAND throughout spring.
The exhibition presents brand new sculptural works in ceramics, textile, paper and drawings. The artworks reflect Stahn’s fascination with the complex women’s stories which over time have filled the area around GL STRAND in inner Copenhagen, where charity ladies, fishwives, shrimp vendors and sex workers have given life and stories to the cobbled streets, lanes and squares of the city. In the exhibition Stahn weaves the historical stories together with her own experiences in Copenhagen today, creating a narrative whose historical references consciously branch out in several directions and produce a picture of contrasts, currencies and hierarchies in the world of culture.
Anna Stahn has created the exhibition on the third floor as a constructed city space with a boulevard, benches, scattered women’s shoes and thrown-away love letters as well as flashes of pictorial narratives, encompassing freely fantasizing references to the fishwives on Gammel Strand, to the hospitable working women on the side streets with fish-related names like Salmon Street and Lobster Street, and to the bourgeois charity-dispensing ’ladies with big hats’, who lived in the fancy facade houses on among other streets Gammel Strand.
The central work in the exhibition is a ceramic-tiled floor with engraved pictorial narratives that flow out into the surrounding space and invite the exhibition visitors on a tour that takes them past a pair of sculptural benches made of textile that Stahn has given the form of female figures set up in provocative positions, but which at the same time invite them to pause and reflect. In a corner, love letters have been left in ample quantities –perhaps intended for the lucky guest. The reflective moments create a quiet contrast with the cries of the fishwives of which the exhibition is also full – in among other places an essay written for the occasion by Anna Stahn herself.
In her themes, Anna Stahn is fascinated by women’s lives, consumption, decay and alternations among various economies. With ambivalence in words, concepts, situations, objects and characters she packs them sophisticatedly and thought-provokingly into her lines drawn on paper or as in the exhibition engraved in the tiled boulevard, in objects formed in textile or clay, in words and in the titles of the works. Stahn often works in smaller formats. For the exhibition at GL STRAND this time she increases the format and has developed a larger installation.
Anna Stahn (b. 1994) graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Art in 2020 and works with formats on paper, in text or sculpturally in ceramics or textiles. In general, she is preoccupied in her content with those aspects of human existence that are driven by desire and the power of the imagery and focuses in her works on mankind’s strong relations with the material world.
Anna Stahn’s first solo exhibition at the Alice Folker Gallery in 2021 was awarded a prize by the Danish Arts Council; she has created a large gable painting at the Valby Hall and is behind the etchings in the author Olga Ravn’s prizewinning book ”Mit arbejde” (My Work). In 2020, she participated in the exhibition ”Cool Clay” at Gl. Holtegaard. In the autumn of 2021, Anna Stahn published the accordion-fold book “A Film”.