The classic exhibition space at Officinet* has been transformed into a rough construction-site version of ‘the white cube’. A scaffolding net adds contrast and creates its own room within the room. Through the net, visitors glimpse bits and pieces from the exhibition construction: dismantled transport crates, a ladder, an abandoned folding rule … Playing with impressions, the scenario suggests that the exhibition has only just been unpacked or is perhaps in the process of being packed up. This uncertainty sows doubt about the stability of the exhibition situation itself and underscores the processual character of the exhibition pieces. 

A Quivering Undertone

The objects in the Ruin exhibition were created during a residency at the Danish Art Workshops in autumn 2022. In a sense, Ruin is a continuation of former series of works, but this time, I have returned to the scene of the crime with a different approach. The objects refer at once to the familiar ceramic archetype of the vessel and to a more open, abstract structure that sparks associations pointing in many different directions. To a ceramic artist, the vessel is almost like the painter’s white canvas: a starting point that can be reinterpreted over and over in a search for new and contemporary expressions. I previously worked with cubic vessels, their simple shape providing a basis for the organic movements of glazes (the Cubes series, 1995–2007). Another project that this exhibition draws on is Deform from 1995–97. It consisted of a series of basic geometric shapes that were exposed to ever higher temperatures, causing them increasingly to melt and transition towards something formless and lumpy. 

My work on Ruin unfolded as one big experiment, as I chose to maximize the loss of control that the firing always represents in the ceramic process, where melting is a crucial factor in the emergence of the expression. I let the glazes flow freely, virtually dissolving the surfaces as they slid down the form. I also pushed the shape of the objects to the point of compromising their integrity, causing some of them to deform and come close to collapse. In many of the objects in this series, the vessel’s inner cavity is just as significant as its exterior form due to the mass of glaze flowing down the inner walls and creating the impression of a landscape or a grotto inside the object. These massive layers of glaze create an expression reminiscent of geological processes, and to me, the objects occupy a position in between the raw powers of nature and man-made cultural objects. 

All the glazes are coloured with cobalt oxide, a politically ‘hot’ metal that is used in lithium ion batteries and hence a highly sought-after and limited resource. In the chemical composition of the different glazes, the cobalt unfolded in varying shades of colour and texture, ranging from a greyish blue lava-like mass to a deep blue high-gloss shine. In ceramics, cobalt is known from the time of the Chinese Tang Dynasty in the 7th century and all the way up to today’s blue fluted porcelain. In a glaze, cobalt oxide can result in anything from a cheap ingratiating tone to an aristocratic blue.

In my approach to ceramics, the material is constantly exposed – there is constantly something happening to it, and the objects emerge as an accumulation of processes that are deposited as a representation of energy and time in the physical matter. I pushed the forms and glazes to the edge of what is possible, building too tall and spindly, too big and thin, firing at too high a temperature. I covered the objects with huge amounts of different glazes, sometimes layering glazes with opposite physical properties: some layers bubbling up and expanding, others contracting into flakes or running and pooling into deep lakes. I fired objects multiple times, added new layers of glaze and then fired them again at a higher temperature, driving the object to ever higher levels of deformation. I did not stop until an object had attained a certain quivering expression, teetering on the edge between creation and destruction. The objects may appear to be in a transformative process, representing a tangible point on the object’s timeline, since just as there is a ‘before’, there will also be an ‘after’. Ultimately, the objects are going to break up completely, dissolve and enter into new physical manifestations.

Mindcraft18 at San Simpliciano

Mindcraft18, exhibition at San Simpliciano during Milan Designweek.
All is Flux #7 and All is Flux #8  (2018)
Photo: Julie Hering

Mindcraft18 was presented by the Danish Arts Foundation,
Curated by Ditte Hammerstrøm.

‘All is Flux’ is a radical experiment based on enlarging and highlighting the tactile properties of ceramic glaze as a manifestation of the constant state of flux that characterizes the entire physical world, even if some transformation processes are so slow as to appear imperceptible. The liquid glaze is transformed in the kiln, but the apparent permanence of its new, solid form is merely an illusion, a temporary stage. Like a tactile snapshot, the works can be seen as a single point in the lifespan of the objects – just as there was a time before their current state, there is an ‘after’. Over time, the objects will break down, dissolve and re-emerge as new physical manifestations.

The objects in the series consist entirely of thick layers of different glazes that are poured into sharply defined rectangles and kiln-fired at 1280 degrees Celsius. In the kiln the glaze melts, boils and bubbles up, the process transforming the texture and appearance of the material and blurring the edges of the rectangular shape. A sudden reduction in the temperature freezes the chemical reaction. The complex and ambiguous textures can be seen both as primordial matter and as a manmade material in the process of melting and transformation.



All is Flux #7 and All is Flux #8
198 x 98 x 5 cm. 195 x 95 x 5 cm. Several layers of different glazes.
Easels: black stained wood.
Photo: Anders Sune Berg.


Detail (2018)
Photo: Anders Sune Berg.

Detail, All is Flux #8
Photo: Anders Sune Berg.

Now & Here

Now & Here, exhibition view Bagsværd Church. (2017)
All is Flux #7, All is Flux #8
198 x 98 x 5 cm. , 195 x 95 x 5 cm. The two objects consist entirely of four different glazes.
Photo: Benita Marcussen.

All is Flux #7 and  #8 was originally created for a site-specific exhibition in the iconic Bagsværd Church, designed by Jørn Utzon.

 Conventionally, the glaze, even in large sculptures, is merely a thin coating. Here, it takes on a physical format that is larger than the human body. At the same time, in an almost dizzying  dual perspective, the texture also gives the impression of a detail that has been blown up or of something seen through a microscope.

Viewed from a distance the objects appear identical, but seen up close, one is tending towards black, while the other is approaching a dark cobalt blue. The objects appear texturally complex and open to multiple interpretations: at first glance, the blackish blue, dramatically boiled textures evoke associations to lava and volcanic landscapes, but a second look reveals a glossy sheen in the glazes closer to plastic or oil, and in the fields of black there flows a cobalt blue – a colour with a long tradition in the porcelain industry.

Bagsværd Church is a fine example of Utzon’s exploration of the possibilities of modular concrete construction. The gallery is designed as a strictly modular system of concrete elements, whose dimensions are repeated in the two glaze objects. However, while the gallery has a stable materiality and is dominated by straight lines, the glaze objects by contrast, appear dissolved and organic. The dark cobalt blue glazes also link the objects to the building, referencing the cobalt blue tiles used as decorative cladding on edges in the church.