Copenhagen's ‘Super High End Underground’ exhibition bridges art and fashion

By Isabella Rose Davey

Photo: Mads Holm

In a church-turned-gallery in Copenhagen, a new exhibition featuring a handful of beloved Danish designers – Henrik Vibskov, Louise Lyngh Bjerregard and Ruby Mariama, to name a few – is directly bridging the gap between art and fashion

What do you designers seek as inspiration in this day and age? What does that reflect about the wider social climate that we live in? With its suggestive name, Super High End Underground is an exhibition held in the contemporary gallery space Nikolai Kunsthal in Copenhagen that is exploring these deeper questions.


Taking Copenhagen as the ‘focal point for a specific creative nerve', the exhibit examines the dynamic relationship between visual art and avant-garde fashion. Featuring works from names ranging from longtime creative leader Henrik Vibskov and his collaborator Andreas Emenius, and the avant garde innovator Louise Lyngh Bjerregard to new voices such as Ruby Mariama and Hannah Toticki.

Rather than cementing any ideas or narratives, the showcase is more of a fleeting collective of thoughts and expressions. Noting that a special energy is present in the works on show – often originating from niche environments – ‘it is these ideas that have a power to pave the way for new standards and trends in unpredictable and complex ways.’

Photo: Brian Kure

Photo: Brian Kure

Spanning film, performance, immersion, sculpture, painting, photography and collage, the exhibition displays interact with one another, welcoming curiosity and dialogue. Presenting in a gallery setting to all those that were part of the artistic curation felt like a natural choice. As Danish fashion designer Louise Lyngh Bjerregaard notes, “Its home. A back to the roots setting. An opportunity to explore what was before and how it became what it is now. It is an opportunity to hit the reset button but also to shift gears for a moment and explore what’s on the horizon. Stargazing.”

For Norwegian-Gambian artist Ruby Mariama it offered a canvas whose opportunities for imagination stretched farther than the realms of fashion could. “The gallery presents an arena where I can tell stories that go beyond relating to the human body. I studied fashion design which never really gave me the full satisfaction because I could never leave the relationship to the human body entirely when creating clothes, and that meant that some parts of my stories could not be told,” Mariama says.

According to the chief curator of the exhibition, Helene Nyborg Bay, it makes sense to place fashion in a gallery space as she believes synthesis between different mediums can only ever lead to positive outcomes. “In my opinion gallery spaces can be used for many kinds of experiences – that be social, experimental, aesthetic – experiences that call for contemplation and often include meetings between genres, for instance fashion and art.”

Photo: Mads Holm

In hope that the worlds of art and fashion continue to collide in more creative and meaningful dialogue, Danish designer Henrik Vibskov is another who believes all creative practices naturally merge. “I come from a music background, doing fashion as well quite a lot of art things,” Vibskov comments. “For me all of these mediums float together into interdisciplinary forms.”

Louise Lyngh Bjerregaard has been showcasing during Paris Fashion Week for numerous seasons, while keeping a freedom with her vision on the forms that they often take. Her definitions have long been questions more than answers, welcoming art and fashion to intersect as much as divert in her practice. “With a runway show you are lucky to have the attention of people for around seven minutes. It is seven minutes where you have the opportunity to communicate your vision right,“ she says.

“On the flip side, you deal with clothing. Something almost everyone on the planet has an opinion about. They know how they like a fit, most are attuned to a certain style and taste, some follow flaky trends, they know what makes them feel comfortable mentally and physically as well as what emphasises and what hides. So there can be a lot of pre-determined noise to cut through when communication through this medium,” Lyngh Bjerregaard goes on.

In my practice, I navigate the parallel worlds of art and fashion with a focus on storytelling. While I engage with both, my focus tends to gravitate towards narrative depth and world-building over commercial considerations.

Ruby Mariama, Norwegian-Gambian artist

Photo: Brian Kure

Perhaps Mariama puts it best when she concludes that story is at the heart of all engaging works, be it fashion, art or anything in between. “In my practice, I navigate the parallel worlds of art and fashion with a focus on storytelling. While I engage with both, my focus tends to gravitate towards narrative depth and world-building over commercial considerations. I distinguish between creating garments for characters within a narrative context and designing for broader commercial appeal. While engaging less and less with fashion I still tend to bring with me some of the dynamics from clothing and textile design,” Mariama comments. “Regardless of the medium – be it film, theatre, fashion, art or other artistic mediums – my goal remains centred on crafting immersive worlds and exploring the nuances of character and plot.”

Super High End Underground is on show at Nikolai Kunsthal, Copenhagen until the 28th July 2024.