The exhibition “Tradition is Contemporary” at The National Crafts Museum in New Delhi opened in November 2022 and was curated and staged by us. The show brings 13 Danish artisans, artists and designers working with textiles to India, and juxtaposes them with the museum’s vast collection of artifacts of great craftsmanship.

The exhibition showcases more than 100 years of Danish textile tradition and tries to show how dichotomies between old and new – traditional and contemporary – don’t really hold up any more. In stead we strive to showcase how objects and ideas can migrate while travelling across different cultures and times. The next big thing was in the past.

Participating artists were:

Malene Bach (1967-)
Ragna Braase (1929-2013)
Freya Dalsjø (1989-)
Bitten Hegelund (1960-)
Vibeke Klint (1927-2019)
Marie Gudme Leth (1895-1997)
Jan Machenhauer (1954-)
Margrethe Odgaard (1978-)
Anne Fabricius Møller (1959-)
Vibeke Rohland (1957-)
Ebbe Stub-Wittrup (1973-)
Paula Trock (1889-1979)
Hanne Vedel (1933)

All signage was hand-painted by Arif Khan.

The earliest pieces in the exhibition were these specimens (left, above) found in the National Archives, Copenhagen, of textile samples transported from India to Denmark on merchant’s ships between 1788-1817. The title of the show resulted from opening up these boxes of very old textiles and realizing that they all seemed so contemporary! For the show we had a few of them redone by block-printers from Rajasthan and used them throughout the space for the set design. For instance as cushions on the stools we had made, or for the binding of the catalog. The stool is based on an old Danish milking stool – re-interpreted by the museum’s team of carpenters.

Bitten Hegelund, textile-printer, above. Ragna Braase, Margrethe Odgaard, Vibeke Klint and Anne Fabricius Møller seen below.

Fashion-designer Jan Machenhauer seen above. Vibeke Klint, Malene Bach, Ebbe Stub-Wittrup and Ragna Braase seen below.

Anne Fabricius Møller, Vibeke Rohland And Bitten Hegelund above. Vibeke Rohland, Bitten Hegelund, Hanne Vedel and Paula Trock below.

Modernist textile-printer Marie Gudme Leth above. Hanne Vedel, Paula Trock, Freya Dalsjø and Ragna Braase below.

All installation views by Jeetin Sharma. Archive samples documented by Torben Eskerod.