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Reinventing the critical language on contemporary crafts

16.10.2020

Men and women meeting around a table filled with coffee pots and laptop computers.
Network meeting in Bergen, Norway, in October 2019.

Nordic Platform for Critical Craft Theory is a network for exchange of knowledge and expertise on contemporary crafts in the Nordic region.  The network received Short-term network funding in 2018 and was considered as one of the best short-term network projects that year.

With an ambition to attract a broader understanding of crafts as a diversified aesthetical field, the network consisting of experts within craft theory in the Nordic region  has contributed to strengthening the critical and analytical language on contemporary crafts within the Nordic countries.

Through seminars and workshops, the network has modified and reframed 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.

It was a good opportunity to understand what are the current issues that my Nordic peers deal with in different sides of the field: the academia, makers, curators, small operators, large operators, and the under-represented. It also was a fantastic opportunity to understand who the key people in the field in the Nordic countries are, which I must admit not knowing that well. I feel I got huge amount of new contacts that I will for sure be using and sharing to my peers in the future.

The workshops were a productive framework for rethinking what constitutes as contemporary crafts from the Nordic region but building tools and language that can adequately discuss the current situation of crafts, craft-based practices, and materiality, takes time. Critical thinking needs new terminology and new perspectives time to mature to become part of the shared language.

Network funding is granted for without a requirement of an end-product. The network members agreed that there is a huge value in workshops that are open-ended, without a typical physical outcome, such as an exhibition.

I think I got a lot verification that the issues discussed during the platform, such as equality, equity and diversity etc. are needed to take into the DNA of institutions like our museum. We are actually trying to do it with our new strategy (which is in progress), and it was great to see how on point we are with our upcoming strategy. It aligns really well with the topics discussed in the platform.

As a part of this project Norwegian Crafts has published two articles on its website open for anyone:

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