the Biennale - ties that bind us

Five of the projects in the Biennale use the theme of Community to explore what holds or binds a person - sometimes what quite literally ties a person - to a group or community.


AweAre by the visual artist Charlotte Østergaard in macrameé and braided lycra links together four people and that gives each an element of independence and freedom but clearly restricts how far they can move apart.

On the evening that the Biennale Prize was presented there was a performance by four dancers where, at points, they moved as a collective body and then pulled apart to the limit though curiously that was when, stretched taught, they could lean away, like leaning into the wind, at angles that no individual could achieve, but, when they came back together, it required delicate co-ordination to step round or through the group to tangle and untangle their connections.



Biennalen for Kunsthåndværk & Design


Hva' for et skab? What Kind of Ties by the art group RØRT with the jewellery artists Kristina Villadsen, Maja Røhl, Maria Tsoskunoglu, and Nanna Obel could hardly be more different but was still about four people linked by much more delicate ties but equally strong because those looped together in a single elegant necklace choose not to pull away and break the silk cord that holds the freshwater pearls together.

The work explores the strong and long-lasting bonds of friendship that can form within a group of women … bonds and ties that are so often difficult for an outsider, particularly a man, to understand.

When not worn then the necklace is laid across a deep red fabric and forms what is recognisable immediately as a Danish flag and that too is a symbol of a powerful and lifelong bond between the members of a community. 

Biennalen for Kunsthåndværk & Design



Mourning Period by the jewellery artist Sarah Winther is about stronger but even less tangible bonds than pearls strung on silk … here about our memories of family or friends after death.

Two strong ideas are explored. First that the memory of a specific smell can remind us of a person - here the distinct aftershave used by a step father - and, by well-established tradition, jewellery - here silver rings - can be a tangible reminder that honours and keeps the memory of a person with us.

Biennalen for Kunsthåndværk & Design


Red Cabinet by the designer Mia Lagerman is a tall cabinet in red, lacquered wood, with rattan forming grills on both long sides but open ends and with shelves in mirror glass.

It looks back to a type of furniture that is less usual now … what was sometimes called a cabinet of curiosities.

People have always collected things - objects that are either intrinsically valuable - a collection of coins or medals - curious and unusual objects - particularly things collected on travels to other countries - or are objects that have personal importance so mementoes of a part of an earlier life or from family.

Displaying objects in a cabinet like this is about how a person sees themselves or wants the community to see them.


Biennalen for Kunsthåndværk & Design


CPH-PEK … en tur på konotoret / CPH-PEK … a trip to the office

by Helle Vibeke Jensen and Mette Saabye


Work in “stone, paper, string, gold, yarn, ink, mars. fabric, stamp mash, open sandwiches and copious amounts of 'goo' to keep it together”

This project began when the artists met for the first time in Beijing when they were travelling for the Danish Arts Foundation state jewellery collection. They discovered similar interests, in what they collected from the trip, and this work explores an amazing fantasy world, where they have created passports - the ultimate link between a person and their community in the broadest sense - unless you really can travel as a world citizen.

The starting point is the meeting of Chinese and Danish cultures and crafts so there is an invented alphabet of pictograms that were inspired by the stamps and seals of Chinese artists but has, for instance, a stylised propeller for the consonant P and, as in Danish teaching, is printed in black while the symbols for vowels are red.

The jewellery explores concepts of intrinsic value - so in gold - or invested value in found objects such as stones or bricks that are given value because they become important to us or because the artist reveals something beautiful within the material.

If this sounds stodgy or over-invested in meaning, the work is far far from that … it was difficult to take photographs as the tables were always surrounded by people in discussion with the artists. This is about fantasy and imagination but also about core design decisions about form and style; about materials and techniques used by the maker and about the discipline of stopping work on a piece at the right point.

 Biennalen for Kunsthåndværk & Design

Helle Vibeke Jensen