Nordic Platform for Critical Craft Theory

Nordic Platform for Critical Craft Theory is a network for knowledge-exchange and expertise on contemporary crafts in the Nordic region

The network had its inaugural meeting at Norwegian Crafts' offices in Oslo on 20 February. 
Suvi Saloniemi
, chief curator at the Design museum in Helsinki, Finland, Love Jönsson, director of RIAN designmuseum in Falkenberg, Sweden, and André Gali, head of critical theory and publications at Norwegian Crafts attended.

Workshop in Bergen

«The goal is to exchange knowledge about contemporary crafts in the Nordic region and to strengthen and reshape the critical conversation within the Nordic countries. »

There is an increased interest craft and craft-based knowledge such as materiality and skills in the visual art world today, and with this we experience an increase in the discussions and reflections around craft both within and outside the craft field. Also, the population in the Nordic region is growing increasingly diverse, leading to a potent, vibrant and diversified culture. What constitutes as Nordic crafts today is much more complex than just 20 years ago, when minimalist aesthetics and natural materials still were the dominant visual language in contemporary crafts.

In order to meet this increased interest in various material-based art practices, contemporary crafts and design, as well as to address these complex cultural conversations we are experiencing (where different cultural and aesthetical languages intersect), there is a need to join forces within the theory development on contemporary crafts. The goal is to exchange knowledge about contemporary crafts in the Nordic region and to strengthen and reshape the critical conversation within the Nordic countries. It is of particular interest to acknowledge and respond to a more diverse contemporaneity; to modify and reframe the Nordic and international perception of what constitutes as Nordic and to include aesthetical traditions such as duodji and non-Nordic/ non-Western crafts that challenge and broadens the concept of a shared Nordic aesthetics, politics and heritage.

A network consisting of experts within craft theory in the Nordic region will contribute to strengthen the critical and analytical language on contemporary crafts, with an ambition to attract a broader understanding of crafts as a diversified aesthetical field. Nordic Platform for Critical Craft Theory is planning a program that can include seminars and workshops forming the foundations of papers on contemporary Nordic crafts, benefiting a wide range of curators/ critics and professionals within the art field and beyond.

As critical crafts theoreticians working in a more diversified field, we believe that in order to understand the aesthetical and political force of crafts today and in the future, we need to remap, update and reinvent critical language. The network will focus on the following:

• to meet and exchange reflections on critical thinking through workshops

• to address contemporary crafts from new perspectives, including postcolonial, queer and feminist perspectives as well as current philosophical positions on the object world, materiality, ecology and more

• to arrange a one-day event open to the public in shape of a seminar, workshop or similar

Workshop in Helsinki

Meeting / workshop #1
Bergen 30 - 31 October 2019

The workshop included an open lecture with Professor Gunvor Guttorm at Kode Art Museums and Composer Homes on Wednesday evening and a closed session for critical discussions and knowledge exchange on Thursday.

Guttorm’s lecture, entitledThe concept of duodji, as everyday activity and action in art’ addressed Sámi culture and art in relationship to history and traditional clothes, especially the ládjogahpir, a horn hat traditionally worn by Sámi women that for instance the contemporary artist Outi Pieski has investigated in recent projects. In Guttorm’s lecture duodji was presented as a concept not easily translated to Western understanding. It has its basis in Sámi everyday life, and encompasses preparation of materials, making, aesthetics and a life view. During the workshop questions surrounding what constitutes as Nordic contemporary crafts and the role duodji can play within a new, more diverse understanding of Nordic crafts and identity was discussed.

Contributors to the workshop was:

* Gunvor Guttorm, Professor in duodji, Sámi allaskuvlla
* Anders Ljungberg, silversmith and professor at Kontsfack
* Irene Snarby, Art Historian/ phd student at The Arctic University of Norway
* Johnny Herbert, artist, writer, editor, phd-student
* Marit Lønning Reiten, head of education, Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts
* Kirsti van Hoegee, director of Kraft gallery
* Randi Grov Berger, director of gallery Entrée and curator for Tendenser 2020
* Lars Sture, curator, Norwegian Crafts
* Suvi Saloniemi, chief curator at Designmuseum Helsinki
* Love Jönsson, director of Rian design museum
* André Gali, head of theory and publications, Norwegian Crafts


Meeting / workshop #2
Helsinki 11-12 December 2019

The workshop included a lecture for the group with Doctoral candidate Riikka Latva-Somppi at Design Museum Helsinki on Wednesday evening and a session for critical discussions and knowledge exchange on Thursday.

Contributors to the workshop was:

* Riikka Latva-Somppi, Artist, Curator and Educator, PhD student at Aalto University
* Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen, Textile Artist, PhD student at Aalto University
* Krista Kosonen, Doctor of Arts
* Ida Kukkapuro, Editor in Chief of Helsinki Design Weekly
* Susanna Thiel, Curator of Collection at Design Museum Helsinki
* Anna van der Lei, Lecturer in Contemporary Design at Aalto University
* Lars Sture, curator, Norwegian Crafts
* Suvi Saloniemi, chief curator at Designmuseum Helsinki
* Love Jönsson, director of Rian design museum
* André Gali, head of theory and publications, Norwegian Crafts


Meeting/ workshop #3 Falkenberg 12-13 February 2020

The workshop included an open lecture by Professor Jessica Hemmings at Rian designmuseum on Wednesday evening and a closed session for critical discussions and knowledge exchange on Thursday.

Hemming's lecture, entitled "Crafting Culture", compared the identity of crafts from different parts of the English-speaking world and opened up for a comparison with craft in Scandinavia.

The lecture was in English and open to the public.

Contributors to the workshop was:

* Jessica Hemmings, professor at HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design, Gothenburg
* Yuka Oyama, professor at HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design, Gothenburg
* Christina Zetterlund, professor at the Linné University
* Susanna Thiel, curator at the Design Museum, Helsinki
* Henriette Noermark, freelance curator, Copenhagen
* Birgitta Nordström, weaver and a former research student at HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design, Gothenburg
* Helena Hertov, curator at Rian Design Museum
* Malin Henningsson, project manager Rian Design Museum
* Andrea Peach, professor at Konstfack, Stockholm
* Lars Sture, curator, Norwegian Crafts
* Suvi Saloniemi, chief curator at Designmuseum Helsinki
* Love Jönsson, director of Rian design museum
* André Gali, head of theory and publications, Norwegian Crafts
* Hege Henriksen, director, Norwegian Crafts
* Tonje Kjellevold, external relations and grants, Norwegian Crafts

Nordic Platform for Critical Craft Theory was initiated by Norwegian Crafts and is generously supported by Nordic Culture Point.