Miss Teak
Stuff Ingenuity and Culture in Contemporary Danish Crafts.

This was the York Quay’s offing for the SuperDanish festival, held in the Harbourfront center of Toronto would have been perfect, an examination of northern culture and how it relates to aesthetic objects combined functional and non functional objects in a huge variety of media, mostly well currated. There was Astrid Krogh, who used neon to highlight traditional woven design patterns and Anne Fabricus Moeller who used traditional fabric methods (wool, on a hand loom, the same one used by her ancestors) to highlight radically new fractalised patterns. There were stools made from hip new materials (cut off baseball bats, because they were made from ash, which was a geographical signifier for both Denmark and Toronto.)

There was Gitte Jurgenson and Flemming Tevede working on a large, strange installation of 47 blown ceramic spheres arranged on a kelly green wall, moving from right to left, meandering downward from 7 feet up a wall to down almost to the floor, but next to this were hand thrown and hand carved bowls (Tobias Mohl). The commitment to traditional and radical crafts, the deconstruction of function, the commitment to sublimity and rigorous theory, and the openness to a new way of seeing marked the connections between Denmark and Canada (if we are connected, it is because of weather and place, craft thrives when one is bored 8 months of the year).

While the work was mostly placed with consumate care, some of the better examples were badly installed, and there were other practical problems. the biggest one was how Anders Ruhwalds abstracted, biomophic ceramics were treated. These peices, in autumnal colours like cornflower, pine and squash, curve and curl around themselves, are smooth and tumescent, with slots and spires so that light traps, and emerges in different places. They require a holistic view, because they are so complicated in there manipulations of light and space–they were placed three feet back on a white table, nearest the wall–so the colour of the wall and the distance from the viewer made a full understanding of the text difficult. As well, the neon rug should have not been propped up on a wall, but been underfoot, and some thought could be made on how to make the furniture fulfil its usefulness.

The biggest struggle should have been the least problemtic. This was the catalog. It was well appointed and laid out, with large bios and images for each artist, several essays and a schedule of events that related to the show. However it is impossible to consult in the gallery, or anywhere else, it is now on the floor of the caf’ in which I’m writing. (The thing is big–4 feet by 3 feet, and it is printed on heavy stock, so it cannot be folded, except in tow or carried comfortably. The purpose of a catalog is a reference material, and this is almost impossible to consult.)

With some more thought about placement and supporting materials, this would have been a show that would be talked about for a long time to come, even with the major annoyances, it will be well remembered landmark display, both formally and geographically.