Danish Arts Foundation / New York
Staple galleries The Future Perfect and Hostler Burrows have teamed up with the Danish cultural organisation for two distinct design exhibitions this fall.
Matter at Hand
Hostler Burrows, New York
Until 9th December, 2021
Open & Closed
Casa Perfect, New York
Until 15th December, 2021
NEW YORK IS back in full swing and with the US ban on travel lifted earlier this month, international visitors have returned in droves. Celebrating a renewed spirit of international collaboration, two of the city’s leading collectible design galleries – Hostler Burrows and The Future Perfect – have mounted survey shows in partnership with the Danish Arts Foundation.
While Hostler Burrows’s ‘Matter at Hand’ exhibition brings together ten of Denmark’s leading material-focused makers, The Future Perfect’s ‘Open & Closed’ project taps into the prowess of some of the nation’s most promising experimental talents. Together, they present the work of 19 living designers that hail from this small but prolific country; one steeped in an enduring tradition of craft and design. Both exhibitions opened in late October and run through to mid-December, aligning with New York’s many fall events, such as the Salon Art + Design and NYCxDESIGN.
Instrumental in the promotion of the Scandinavian country’s creative equity, the government-funded Danish Arts Foundation supports a diverse range of over 6,000 artists and designers in over 60 national and international initiatives. For these two curatorial projects, the organisation covered the cost of production, supported with logistics, and also facilitated virtual studio visits. Working closely with such established – yet dynamic and agile – New York institutions ensures that the Danish Arts Foundation is able to bring this particular group of talents in direct contact with the right audience.
For ‘Open & Close’, The Future Perfect’s gallery director Laura Young reached out to nine up-and-comers and asked each of them to develop a small three-dimensional container that reflects the conventional characteristics of a box, while also demonstrating their own particular approach.
While some followed the brief closely, others took more artistic licence with auspicious results. The overall display reveals the diverse type of work being produced in Denmark today and that there isn’t just one specific style dominating their creative output.
“The box is a poignant symbol of spaces as they are opened and closed, and of the rigid conditions under which many artworks are made and presented,” Young explains. “To show work created from such a fixed concept, we explore how every object and artwork we interact with carries within it a set of complex economic and political circumstances.”
This underlying conceptual framework is bolstered by the very nature of this typology: the skills that go into the assembly of a six-sided volume, but also the possibilities that this fundamental process affords in defining a void.
Whereas Cathrine Raben Davidsen delved deep into the symbolism and spiritual qualities behind the ceramic tradition of an urn, Louise Hedegaard Madsen’s sheer soft surface box riffs on the material boundaries of an enclosure.
The responsible use of natural resources is a guiding thread through Ida Elke, Mariko Wada, and Pettersen & Hein’s interpretive pieces.
Stine Mikkelsen and Elly Glossop developed their own upcycled composites for their contributions. Crushed glass bead and marble, quartz sand, fish glue, porcelain and volcanic glass fragments congeal in beautifully textured surfaces that take on both amorphous and architectonic forms.
Over two years in the making, this project was a labour of love for Young, who played an important role in helping to incubate the various concepts. The fruits of that labour are on view by appointment at Casa Perfect until 15th December.
Programmed with academic rigour, the ‘Matter at Hand’ exhibition at Hostler Burrows takes a deep dive into the practices of ten contemporary makers that champion material and their own adaptive, or bespoke, craft techniques. The career-defining pledge they’ve made to forging these processes is rare in an industry that’s prone to fleeting fashions. For these various talents, craft is understood on a metaphysical level.
In a publication that accompanies the exhibition, noted historian, curator, and TDE contributor Glenn Adamson write: “… these objects do exemplify a philosophy: a way of being in the world. Whether clay or wood, metal or glass, each represents the direct engagement between a living, thinking person and the obdurate, external, and uncaring domain of materiality. The very fact of the objects’ excellence attests to the absolute commitment that was brought to these encounters.”
On view are moulded-glass ‘fantasies’ by young conceptually-driven maker Stine Bidstrup, Anne Brandhøj’s ‘imperfect’ yet contained wooden tables and pedestals, and Hanne G’s crocheted craftivist totems. While Astrid Krogh employs fibre to capture and interpret different natural phenomena in digital imagery, Martin Bodilsen Kaldahl’s iterative glazed stoneware sculptures evoke the sinuosity of knotted textiles.
Like The Future Perfect’s Laura Young, Hostler Burrows co-principal Juliet Burrows developed this exhibition just as the pandemic took hold of the work. Both curators were able to implement video conferencing technology to move their endeavours forward. Given the fact that all of the pieces on view and the practices they represent centre on tactility and physical interaction, their undertakings were not small feats.