TIL STEDEt is an exhibition series in Bagsværd Church that I curated. I invited eleven leading Danish craft makers and designers to engage in a dialogue with Utzon’s stunning architecture and present new works created especially for the church gallery. Thus, all the works are site-specific, as indicated by the title of the exhibition series.
Utzon’s architecture guided my selection of the participating makers and designers; his use of materials, for example, but also the way in which he orchestrates his effects. Several of the invited makers and designers have a similar sense for creating a hierarchy in their works – a balance between whole and detail – and for combining the poetic with the rational. Some have a special affinity for geometric shapes, others for new technology, and so forth.
Craft and design objects have a unique PRESENCE by virtue of their materiality and craftsmanship. That is precisely why craft and design may have something unique to offer in the interplay with a specific architectural site. That is one of the issues that TIL STEDEt sets out to explore.
TIL STEDEt opened in late 2016 with a WARM-UP EXHIBITION featuring the exhibitors for 2017/18, each presenting one or two existing, representative works. I had created an exhibition design that tied the many different works together into a coherent presentation.
The exhibition design also played with the Utzonian systems and in itself formed a spatial installation in the gallery that interacts with and comments on the architecture. For example, the three large concrete beams of the gallery are ‘reproduced’ in the grey-painted MDF exhibition walls, and in the middle of the gallery the joints in the floor were highlighted with strips of unfinished MDF forming a trelliswork in a nod to the small atrium on the other side of the wall. This effect also underscores the spatial character of the gallery in this place, at the centre of the passage, where the concrete beams are narrower and thus create a vertical feel in the otherwise highly horizontal space.
TIL STEDEt/"Ultimate soil and other props" by Kristine Tillge Lund
Ceramicist Kristine Tillge Lund was the first exhibitor of TIL STEDEt. Ultimate soil and other props engaged in a subtle discussion of the relationship between handmade and machine-made – a topic that also held Utzon’s interest. The exhibition consisted of six blue tiles leaning against the wall, each just over one square metre; a number of soccer-ball-sized spheres of raw clay (leftovers from a high-tech brickworks) spread out on the floor; and a vase. The tiles had been fired in the upright position, which had caused them to warp. Painted with car paint, they reflected the room around them, the warped surface distorting it beyond recognition and turning all the straight lines wavy and organic. The installation had a random, temporary feel that played with Utzonian repetition, only, in its own unique rhythm. http://kristinetillgelund.com/
TIL STEDEt/"Keramiske Strukturer" (Ceramic Structures) by MBADV
Furniture designer Maria Bruun and architect Anne Dorthe Vester have worked together since 2012 under the name MBADV, creating projects at the intersection of art, architecture and design. Their Bagsværd project "Keramiske Strukturer" (Ceramic Structures) was no exception. Inspired by Utzon’s modular approach, they had designed a ceramic building block that could be stacked to form pillars of various heights and a wooden cross beam with a beautiful wavy surface. Repetition and variation in refined play ... exactly as in Utzon’s distinctive gallery architecture. One sensed that the five structures on display were merely a subset of an infinite number of possible constructions. All five constructions had clear references to familiar typological categories such as tables, benches and shelves, but Keramiske Strukturer is not furniture in the common sense; for that, the installation is too deliberately ambiguous and open. http://mbadv.dk/
TIL STEDEt/"Modelleret, glaseret stentøj" (Pinched, glazed stoneware) by Marianne Nielsen
The leap in scale was stretched to the breaking point in ceramicist Marianne Nielsen’s exhibition "Modelleret, glaseret stentøj" (Pinched, glazed stoneware). It was almost possible to overlook the six small wild ceramic flowers Marianne Nielsen had installed directly on the floor of the gallery, as if they had grown up through the joints. It was a piece rich in contrasts: the flowers stereotypically feminine – fragile, delicate, refined – in contrast to the architecture, which in this exhibition seemed more raw, stringent and rational than ever. Moreover, the flowers had such rich detailing that one was almost drawn into a Lilliputian world of strange shapes and colours, and upon ‘returning’ to the room, one’s gaze had been magically transformed; the details of the room seemed brighter and engaged in a dialogue with the flowers. http://mariannenielsen.com/
TIL STEDEt/"NU og HER" (NOW and HERE) by Gitte Jungersen
While the three previous exhibitors, each in their way, had underscored the gallery’s elongated shape and rhythm by presenting a string of objects spread throughout the space, ceramicist Gitte Jungersen had opted for a different strategy, installing a single work (NU og HER (NOW and HERE)) consisting of two glazed surfaces, as tall as a person, separated by a tiny gap, approximately in the middle of the gallery. One could stand in front of the objects for a long time, sinking into the ‘matter’ (pure glaze with no clay to substantiate the form), which was both hauntingly beautiful and frightening. Formation and dissolution at once. However, precisely because the gallery is an elongated passage, standing in front of the sheets of glaze seems to defy the inherent logic of the space, and indeed, the space also made it possible to view the sheets from a distance. The sheets of glaze and the room interacted in a way where the space and the artwork offered each other resistance, conveying a powerful impression of both the architecture and the ceramic. http://gittejungersen.dk/
TIL STEDEt/"DAGENES SKUM - bibliotek for en bog" (FOAM OF THE DAYS - library for 1 book) by Helle Vibeke Jensen og Wednesday Architecture
Illustrator Helle Vibeke Jensen had created 68 booklets – one for each chapter in Boris Vian’s surrealist novel from 1947, Foam of the Daze (L’écume des jours), which had inspired the installation in the gallery. Colours, shapes and figures had been drawn from Vian’s story, which deals with the love of books, people, food and life. However, Helle Vibeke Jensen had also infused the piece with her own life and added new layers to Vian’s already labyrinthine text, where familiar phenomena and thigs are subject to poetic displacement and distortion. Wednesday Architecture (Lise Bjerre Schmidt and Sofie Trier Mørch) had designed a small series of library furniture for the booklets. The gallery architecture was activated in a surprising and unprecedented way: Utzon’s distinctive architecture – the linear expression and the deviations from linearity; rhythm; modularity and so forth – went beyond the formal quality and turned ‘literary’ and narrative. http://hebiinu.com/ https://www.wednesday-architecture.com/
TIL STEDEt/"FOLD" af BIT/Birgitte Munk og Iben West
BIT/’s textile installation was based on five packing boxes full of discarded tablecloths in a variety of colours and patterns. FOLD was the result of a working process that mixed systematic and logical examination with intuitive empathy. The random element generally plays an important role in BIT/’s installations – and that was also the case in FOLD: the tablecloths had been collected in a second-hand charity shop, and BIT/ had thus not selected the material, but also had not shied away from ugly Christmas motifs or DIY tie-dye experiments. The final appearance of FOLD was co-created by the visitors at the exhibition opening. In a large, controlled ‘group push’, the tablecloths were carefully pushed out to the side of the gallery, where they remained on display throughout the remainder of the exhibition period as a mysterious textile ‘sausage’ that simultaneously complemented and challenged the architecture. http://bit-work.dk/