Halmlageret, Carlsberg area
21. September – 13. October 2012
Offset newsprint in plastic sleeve
Edition of 600
29 x 38 cm, 56 pages
Edit and design by Lodret Vandret
Texts: Lisbeth Bonde and Sara Lubich
Out of print
The Danish Arts Counsil
Grosserer L.F. Foghts Fond
Cai-Ulrich von Platen
Flemming Ove Bech
Jonas Hvid Søndergaard
Kaspar Oppen Samuelsen
Krista Rosenkilde & Frédéric Dilé
Lotte Fløe Christensen
Malene Nors Tardrup
Markus von Platen
Tomas Lagermand Lundme
Viktoria Wendel Skousen
Group Exhibition curated by Lodret Vandret’s Johan Rosenmunthe and Artist Wendy Plovmand. 34 Artists show newly produced works in relation to paper, spanning from sculptures to drawings and conceptual work.
In preparation for the show, a pallet of Arctic White 250g paper sheets was given to the artists for them to use in whatever way they wished.
The venue, Halmlageret, is an abandoned building in the Carlsberg area of Copenhagen, complimenting the fragile paper work with it’s brutal space. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Vandret with text by Lisbeth Bonde and Sara Lubich.
Peak performance on paper
The word paper derives from the Egyptian papyrus, the word for an ancient Egyptian material. It was made from the plant Cyperus papyrus, from which the Egyptians produced many useful things — from baskets to boats — and upon which they wrote what they knew about religion, science and everything in between.
Today paper is an indispensable everyday material that modern humans take for granted. There it lies, plain and unassuming, in printer trays, as stationery on desks, as shelf paper in cupboards or as growing piles of newspapers in our homes. Paper also lines our bookshelves as products of the culture industry, bearing witness to who we are through the books we read. Paper is mounted on walls, carrying artistic expressions on posters and in graphic art, or as light-sensitive photo paper, carrying the imprint of our family members from long ago — or from yesterday. Paper appears as rolls of wallpaper, kitchen towels or toilet paper, it takes the shape of currency, forever changing hands. In this case, paper assumes global power, for those without money have no clout. We wrap presents in paper or we stick it on envelopes, also made of paper, when we send out snail mail with stamps. In other words, paper is a medium with myriad functions, something we discard in huge quantities every day. Fortunately it is often reused, for as opposed to earlier times, paper is now most often produced from a mixture of wood pulp and recycled paper.
In the days of our ancestors, paper was an exclusive and expensive material that people used sparingly, often writing on both sides. At the time it was most often made by hand from rags and was quite thick, much like today’s watercolour and handmade paper. It was chiefly used as a means of communication for scholars, i.e. the chosen few who mastered the noble art of writing.
For centuries artists, too, have made use of paper: for sketching with pencil or charcoal, for painting with watercolour or ink, or for printing graphic art. Paper can be both the most and the least valued of artistic media, but in art history it has been widely regarded as the least, playing second fiddle to the nobler arts of sculpture and painting. The sketch has always been subordinate to the essential: the work. Works on paper have an air of the temporary, something that won’t be delivered until the ”finished” work appears.
If we rewind a few hundred years, before the invention of paint tubes, artists typically sketched en plein air, then returned to their studios to paint. The sketch on paper was clearly considered inferior to the real thing, the finished work. As it is widely known, however, the sketch often possesses a freshness and immediacy that is lost in the finished work.
Contemporary artists have become aware of these qualities. In recent years, more and more young artists have challenged the inferior status of paper and have elevated it to a genuine medium on par with the old familiar media. They have rediscovered the allure of drawings and have noted that drawing or painting on paper make it possible to move very quickly from idea to execution. In the digital age, they have discovered unmediated art. They acknowledge that art made from paper or on paper is more tactile and free from the alienation and mechanical delay of the computer mouse inherent in digital mediation. Like proper Luddites, they make machines yield to hands — for they have discovered that the skilled hand can see. Drawing on paper requires physical presence, just as sculptures and installations made from paper are hands-on creations. The young artists have become aware of the inexhaustible possibilities of paper, both in two and three dimensions. This is very much apparent in the exhibit Paper Match. The artists convince us that a humdrum sheet of paper can be artistically enriched on many levels, and we can see both physical and conceptual works, all revolving around paper. Thirty-four prominent contemporary artists, representing a wide spectrum of modes of expression and media, ask what can be done with a piece of paper. They answer that question by making works that rise up, becoming independent in the space as figures and forms; or works that remain two-dimensional surfaces on which the artists project their ideas, visions or dreams. We witness a seductive and subtle approach, a completely different way of making contemporary art. The works are suspended between the lightness of paper and the heaviness of meaning. It is about transforming this mundane medium, which appears new and different through the playful intervention of the artists. The paper is loaded with poetry and innoculated with imagination, and the modes of expression cover a wide spectrum — from the easily recognizable to the abstract and amorphous. And therein lies the art.
– Lisbeth Bonde, September 2012
Lisbeth Bonde is an art historian and critic. She is a regular contributor to Weekendavisen and has written a number of books on art.