by Roberta Rocca, photos by Asger Christiansen
If you walk by PLADS Artspace in the next few weeks your eyes will be attracted by a row of large windows, opening onto a small bright room which hosts a variety of unusual objects. The most salient among all of them will probably be a weird lamp-like shape, ambiguous in its function. It is made up of a folded and curled tube with an opaque and fragile surface, oddly resembling some human inner organ.
You’ll also see a handful of sketchy drawings hanging from the wall. They seem to bear some loose resemblance to the Themersons’ drawings of the Gaberbocchus press edition of Ubu Roi. Hard to decipher as a whole, they are playfully defying you to a closer look. You’ll see a saw turned upside down on a shelf, as well as some sculptures on the floor which you will perceive as oscillating back and forth in a bistable fashion between potsherds and chunks of plastic ants.
Coherence within the chaos
Though it might be hard to make sense of the whole arrangement of objects, the small room looks like an unusually still and tidy artist workshop. It resembles a material display of some thoughts-in-progress. If you properly pay attention to it, you might have the feeling of hearing like a gentle murmur of immaterial gears, composing and decomposing, sketching and erasing, building, destroying and rethinking again. Slowly and laboriously converging towards an outcome which seems to be only partly pre-defined.
But far from being a chaotic combination of incomplete works, PROCES, the new exhibition on show at PLADS, curated by Sarah Holm and Kathrine Ibjerg Rasmussen, seems to be a fully-fledged and coherent project which perfectly fits its venue. With its transparent loose boundaries between internal and external space, PLADS is the perfect setting for this evocative exhibition.
A deeper thought in the artwork
“The concept behind the exhibition”, says Sarah Holm, “is that the process is not less than the end-product.” The idea behind the project is then that of the artwork as an indissoluble unit in which the process of creation itself is part of the artwork. Looking at the final outcome, or the end-product in isolation, conveys an incomplete perspective on the artwork itself.
Different from industrial production of consumer goods, in which what comes between the prototype and the end-product is merely a series of impersonal, alienating steps, artworks emerge from a complex process in which they are constantly rethought and reshaped both in their conceptual and material components as the process unfolds. The artist’s quest for the artwork takes place as a playful struggle against and with the medium. Therefore, seeing the process on show allows the viewer not only to see the artist at work, but also to glance into the depths of her thought.
The exhibition includes works from young Danish artists and designers, all of them working on different media and offering different perspectives on the core concept of the exhibition. You can stumble upon Kathrine Barbro Bendixen’s Extending Gravity, then look up to experience the mixed feelings of curiosity and revulsion evoked by the already mentioned lamps, named Inside Out. Together with Lærke Heilmann’s, these works tell the viewer about the caducity intrinsic to any process. Everything flows. And what every creative process conceals is that birth, change and death are one.
More on the side of figurative art, Anne Hofmann’s illustrations (and sketches) for Daniel Keyes’ Flowers for Algernon engage the viewer in the exploration of an enchanting world of colourful characters, emerging from nervous lines in both a funny and slightly disturbing fashion. The works are displayed as untied sketches preceding the final outcome and as an end-product in the published version of the book. The process is thus displayed both in a linear, teleological arrangement and as a more chaotic arrangement of pieces, where order emerges slowly and somewhat unpredictably.
Components themselves have a dual nature here. Each drawing is part of the orderly process as well as an autonomous item, meaningful in its own right. And the way of exploring the artwork is twofold as well: the folded book format allows the reader to experience it in many different ways. You can read the book in a discrete fashion, opening it on one, two, three or more frames. Or you can slide through the book as a continuum. Or even open the whole of it, so that the whole of the story is simultaneously available. In this respect, far from being a static object, the artwork or end-product is a manifold process in itself.
An elegant Danish design scene
Other works on show explore more explicitly the relation between art and design, which is the other core concept behind the exhibition. “In this exhibition, we wanted to explore and redefine the thin line between art and design,” says Kathrine Ibjerg. The exhibition aims at elucidating their similarities and their differences through an investigation on their dynamic nature and in the strategies involved in the underlying creative effort.
Through the idea of processes as the conceptual bridge between design and art, it succeeds in providing an elegant and clever perspective on this issue, which goes beyond the mainstream assimilation of art and mass-produced goods stemming from recent artistic experiences such as Jeff Koons’.
The outcome of this framework is, in the end, a conceptually solid but easily accessible exhibition. Each work has something interesting to tell, thus giving an interesting overview on the young Danish art and design scene. Succumb the temptation to step in, without any hesitation.
PROCES will be exhibited till the November 27. For more information on opening hours, visit the website.