July 31, 2014
Handmade objects are rapidly increasing in value relative to their mass-produced counterparts, each minute of attention and craft adding to a perception of preciousness. Techne, n.: a summer exhibition at Den Frie in Copenhagen, seeks to investigate this resurgence of interest in making and craft in art, architecture, and design. Curated by the London and […]
Handmade objects are rapidly increasing in value relative to their mass-produced counterparts, each minute of attention and craft adding to a perception of preciousness. Techne, n.: a summer exhibition at Den Frie in Copenhagen, seeks to investigate this resurgence of interest in making and craft in art, architecture, and design. Curated by the London and Berlin-based collective KWY, techne, n.: samples a range of Arts and Crafts-related theories, from Ruskin to Wagner, as well as a stunning array of well-exhibited and carefully composed objects crafted by artists from Denmark and beyond.
Even though “craft” often connotes an attempt to revive a tradition of making, techne, n.: is thoroughly contemporary, in terms of aesthetics and methods of craftsmanship, as well as in its aims—as the organizers write, “The proposition is to reinvigorate the debate on what it means to collaborate and make.” Indeed, the works on display recall the spirit of craftsmanship and gestaltung of the Bauhaus as much as that of the gesamtkunstwerk of the Arts and Crafts Movement and its continental relations, though only the latter is consciously foregrounded by the curators. The exhibition seeks a synthesis between old and new ways of making, many of the works attempting to reengage obsolete tools for contemporary tasks, displaying the evidence of the hand as well as the tight control of a resurgent present-day modernism.
Among the works on display, “When horses had wings” stands out. Occupying a grid of pedestals beneath a wide skylight, the installation is composed of a series of equine sculptures varying from gilded to glazed; all are, as the name suggests, variations on Pegasus, celebrated by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and other 19th century figures as a catalyst for creativity.
Another striking installation is “The Bridge,” by the KWY team themselves. Consisting of a suspended lattice of diagonal black members—which upon closer inspection reveal a gradient from delicate ornamented filigree to minimalist structure, and back again—the installation convincingly presents the type of craft-based synthesis at stake in the exhibition as a whole.
Other works on display include a series of ceramic funerary urns, stereotomic architectural models, sculptural earthen towers, and small pavilions with evocative silhouettes. Each project foregrounds a particular typology, defined by the curators as “plinth, wall, bridge, garden, and roof,” making techne, n.: a strong response to the idea of exhibiting architectural elements.
Techne, n.: is on display at Den Frie in Copenhagen until August 3rd, 2014.