Curation, conceptualization and design for a large exhibition about wickerwork – or basket-making – at Sophienholm Kunsthal, north of Copenhagen.

The show features a large range of current and historic artisans, artists and designers – all connected by their use of this ancient yet still relevant craft. The first room in the exhibition, seen above, showcases a large collection of old and new baskets by the wicker-worker and wicker-instructor Steen H. Madsen.

They range widely: there are baskets for cherries, baskets for laundry, for sewing, and for the hymn book. Baskets to be used, baskets to be coveted, baskets for decoration.

Each basket tells its own story and is simultaneously a point in a developmental history, where a basket becomes slightly more refined each time it is woven.

Included in the show are also artists who use the simple basket as a means to portray larger narratives – of immigration, of belonging, of collecting and passing on. Above and below are shown works by Young-Jun Tak and ARKO.

The value of the basket lies not in the preciousness of the material, but in the skill of the hand. A basket becomes something special only through its processing and artistic quality. Here, the basket is a good example of a new type of status marker, a resource that has changed status, namely having time.

It has become an expression of the ultimate luxury.

Shown together are works by Irish wicker legend Joe Hogan, alongside the American Deborah Needleman – a former New York Times editor who left her prestigious job to follow her new-found passion: basket-making.

All exhibition furniture, display tables, podia and shelves were designed by us. Some of it were re-purposed pieces from previous exhibitions of ours – as in the table above that we originally designed and built for an exhibition at The Hirschsprung Collection.

Throughout the exhibition we wanted to juxtapose contemporary works – some of them artworks without an actual function – with historic pieces of a more utilitarian nature. As in these pieces by Kazuhito Takadoi and Emma Bruschi coupled with an old eel-fishing basket.

Or in the case below where Ditte Gantriis’s huge basket, big enough to hold several people, is shown alongside an old “Moses basket”.

It was also a point for us to showcase a few of the Danish avant-garde artists from the 60’s and 70’s. They were among the first to re-appropriate the ancient art of basket-making and use it in a new context – that of fine arts – pointing to the already then emerging climate and biodiversity crises.

Shown here are the “Willow Monoliths” by Annette Holdensen.

And here “Peddigrørsskulptur” or simply “Rattan Sculpture” by William Louis Sørensen. (1966).

One of the most recent works in the exhibition is the above work by architect Ida Tinning – a palm leaf from The Glyptotek conservatory, woven together as a spatial sculpture – possibly hinting at a future architecture.

Another one of the less basket-like pieces is the above sculpture by Rasmus Myrup.

As a found object, it uses a well-known trope in art; here we have a particularly sculptural branch, found and brought home from the forest, adorned and processed back in the artist’s studio. It may not be a functional basket, but when does the branch, the willow, or the fiber actually become a basket?

The exhibition period was April 11 – August 25 of 2024.

Participating artists:

ARKO (1978)
Emma Bruschi (1995)
Ditte Gantriis (1980)
Joe Hogan (1953)
Annette Holdensen (1934-2023)
Steen H. Madsen
Sara Martinsen (1979)
Rasmus Myrup (1991)
Deborah Needleman (1963)
William Louis Sørensen (1942-2005)
Young-Jun Tak (1989)
Kazuhito Takadoi (1972)
Ida Tinning (1985)

All photos by David Stjernholm.