magic language /// game of whispers

For the Nordic Pavilion at Revelations 2015 (Grand Palais, Paris), five curators, over a period of 25 weeks, have chosen five objects each. All the works are now selected, and the exhibition opens on 9 September.

This year the Nordic Network of Crafts Associations (NNCA) has set up a Nordic Pavilion at the Revelations Fine Crafts and Creation Fair at Grand Palais (10 – 13 September). The fair aims to be the most important exhibition for international fine crafts. The first fair in 2013 presented 267 exhibitors and welcomed more than 33,000 visitors. This year 300 exhibitors are participating, all with high ambitions to show the best of craft, visual art and design.

The NNCA may not have consciously wanted an unconventional pavilion in advance of Marianne Zamecznik presenting her suggestion, but when they chose her proposal, they chose an unconventional curatorial strategy. Already highly acclaimed, Zamecznik was co-curator for the 6th Momentum Biennale in Moss (2011) and has curated a number of exhibitions in Norway, New York, Poland, Paris and Sweden. For the Nordic Pavilion, she has used the game of ‘Chinese whispers’ as a model for selecting and disseminating works.

«In the game of whispers, the objects themselves are the curatorial authors – the curators are merely translators, communicating what the objects themselves have to say»

Marianne Zamecznik
Object 1: DIY place #1: Bali, by Kjersti Lande, Norway Cardboard, 31 x 20 x 5 cm, 2015, © Luca Andreotti
Object 18: New Nature - before and after science, by Mia E. Göransson, Sweden Bone China clay, glaze, parian, coloured parian, pink engobe, 2012 - 2014

Exhibition concept
The exhibition, titled magic language /// game of whispers, has developed through a process whereby five curators – one from each of the five Nordic countries – took turns selecting five works each. Through sending images and texts from one curator to the next, new works have been selected. This process can be said to imitate how words whispered from ear to ear changes content and meaning. Using this playful way of creating new meaning, magic language///game of whispers engages five curators, institutions, and countries in the process of exhibition-making. The game of whispers becomes a tool for generating texts, images, reflection, dialogue and the public’s involvement. The five Nordic curators, Kathrine Borup (DK), Katarina Siltavuori (FI), Agnieszka Knap (SE), Anna Leoniak (IS), and Zamecznik (NO), have chosen 25 works over a time period of 25 weeks. Zamecznik explains:

'In the game of whispers, the objects themselves are the curatorial authors – the curators are merely translators, communicating what the objects themselves have to say. Based on intuition and principles of sympathy, a curator expresses one object’s qualities by selecting another object to stand next to it. The new object then becomes the basis for the next step in the chain of selection.'

While some of the works ‘met’ individually throughout the curatorial process, they will not ‘meet’ as a group until they are mounted in the exhibition at the Grand Palais, she says, and continues:

'When choosing a ‘start’ object for the curatorial ‘game of whispers’, I imagined an object with topographical qualities – an object that only delineates a surface. The surface is one way to focus the attention in a game that is driven by the principle of similarity and sympathy between things.'

Zamecznic chose Kjersti Lande’s work DIY place #1: Bali as the starting object for the ‘game of whispers’.

Zamecznik has for some time investigated new forms of curating and disseminating contemporary crafts, and in the exhibition in Paris, she challenges the conventional exhibition model. The game-of-whispers strategy has resulted in a dynamical process with an outcome that the curators, the commissioner (NNCA) and the fair organizers cannot know of until all the works have been chosen. Zamecznik’s method thus involves a great risk of failure and opens up for questions regarding traditional ways of selection, the authority of the curator, and who really is the ‘author’ of the exhibition.

On 10 September, in front of an audience at Grand Palais, the five curators will meet with gallery owner Maria Lund to discuss their experience of the curation process and its challenges.

Object 19: The Larvik Series, by gunzlerpolmar, Norway Norwegian larvikite stone, 2015

Exhibition: magic language  /// game of whispers
Venue: Grand Palais, Paris
Opening: 9 September 2015
Exhibition period: 10 – 13 September 2015

Curated by Marianne Zamecznik (NO), Kathrine Borup (DK), Katarina Siltavuori (FI), Agnieszka Knap (SE) and Anna Leoniak (IS).

Artists who participate in magic language /// game of whispers:

Kjersti Lande (NO), Inger Andersson (SE), Deepa Panchamia (FI), Marianne Nielsen (DK), OrriFinn Jewels (IS), Pernille Mouritzen (DK), Camilla Luihn, (NO), Helga Ósk Einarsdóttir (IS), Maria Nuutinen (FI), Maki Okamoto (SE), Studio Hlutagerðin (IS), Lea Mi Engholm (DK), Saana Murtti (FI), Hanne Friis (NO), Miro Sazdic (SE), Sonja Löfgren (FI), Janne Krogh Hansen (DK), Mia E. Göransson (SE), günzler.polmar (NO), Studio Hanna Whitehead (IS), Beatrice Brovia (SE), Trine Trier (DK), Thorunn Arnadottir (IS), Nathalie Lahdenmäki (FI), Ingrid Becker (NO).

All objects and curator’s reflections are available at