Main Building

“Folklore – Old New Forms”

  • Jan S. Hansen,

  • Alexander Tovborg,

  • Jette Hye Jin Mortensen,

  • Søren Assenholt,

  • Emil Westman Hertz,

  • Mette Winckelmann,

  • Jurvinart,

  • Travis Meinolf,

  • Cecilie Gravesen

Emil Westman Hertz

Folklore  – Old and New Forms is an exhibition showing how a number of young contemporary artists reinterpret folklore and folk art in the form of woodcutting, patchwork, weaving, folk-song and naive painting. They search for the aesthetic and symbolic powers of folklore and query the values behind them.

Artists: Jan S. Hansen, Alexander Tovborg, Jette Hye Jin Mortensen, Søren Assenholt,Emil Westman Hertz, Mette Winckelmann, Jurvinart, Travis Meinolf, Cecilie Gravesen.
Curator: Solvej Helweg Ovesen, Curator Assistent: Silja Leifsdottir

What is the role of craft in contemporary art today? How do young artists interpret folklore traditions, and what does the growing global movement mean for the new forms of old traditions?
The exhibition challenges our relationship with tradition-bound objects � in a time when the majority of people spend most of their days in front of their computer screens, when anthropologists look at power structures and when historical objects are stored in basements. Is it possible that we are missing tangibility nowadays?
The artworks in Folklore � Old and New Forms draw on Scandinavian patchwork and weaving traditions, aboriginal painting, and woodcutting-traditions from the Congo, surrealistic painting from South America and neo-primitivism, amongst others in association with the Russian Avant-garde. Popular values are brought up to the present with all the questions included. Could it be that folklore is a symbol of an international craft community and goes further than national traditions and icons today?
Is there a kind of homesickness in the creative field of art and industry for materials that bring us back to the roots of craft or are we facing a new global movement based on communication through craft instead of through words?

Workshop In the exhibition folklore values and media are unraveled, separated from their places of origin, examined by others (artists and the public) and are woven together again. Folklore – Old and New Forms accentuates contemporary folk tales in today’s material and in the public. As the American artist Travis Meinolf says “Start the Weaving Revolution” anno 2011. Travis Meinolf gave two of his renowned workshops in Kunsthal 44Møen, at the opening and  at the finisage weekend.

The origin of the term folklore partly stems from an Anglo-Saxon word and partly from a Germanic word. In the narrower sense of the word it refers to the traditions of the common people, which were handed down by word of mouth and which exist in all cultures all over the world. In the broader sense of the word it includes all popular folklore and related traditions – tangible and intangible. In fact folklore stems from the working and lower classes, but due to its popularity it has spread to all classes of society in the majority of countries. In general, the subjects or the tales do not include biblical or ancient figures although these are occasionally referred to in different forms. Folklore – both hand-processed material as myths – is traditionally seen as an aesthetic representation of a national folk treasure that carries meaning and identity between cultures through centuries-of traditions.

A folklore of the mind
by Nynne Just Chrisoffersen, Anthropologist and designer

The word folklore awakens in us a nostalgia for the unknown, a memory of the never experienced, a deep longing for the imagined origin of essence. The word folklore might also give us ideas that are more tangible and comprehensible, such as craft, ethnicity, tradition and exoticism. A traditional attraction to fine art was indeed the surface of otherness that folklore so richly possessed. Artists and explorers from the western hemisphere depicted the symbolic and the superficial, when first bringing back visual evidence of existence of the new world. Folklore, the symbol of a world beyond yours and mine, became a favoured object of western fantasy.

In its original form folklore was thus a concrete external representation of the archaic and unknown, believed to give visual accounts of the origin of man. As the spaces of untouched original culture were one by one explored and placed on a map artists, spurred by the psychoanalyst methodology, turned to the unexplored, unmapped territories of the mind.

The modernists were the first to apply the folkloristic search for the essence of origin to their own self. Instead of stylizing the folklore of otherness, artists began to observe their own inner wilderness or alienation. The folklore of human nature became the quest of the modern man.

Material, essence, texture and recognition are important concepts of folklore in contemporary art of today. To differentiate between how objects are made is relevant, because an object’s meaning is so closely tied to its process of creation. Crafts and natural materials, symbols of nature and concepts of time and space are the language of modern folklore. And so the story about the nature of man is a story about the sensual, the tangible, the handmade, the experienced and the authentic.

Funded by Statens Kunstfond

Mette Winckelmann

Travis Meinolf