The exhibition 'Languages', curated by the Think Tank group, features work by eighteen contemporary European artists, including Norwegian Bente Sætrang, who are working in the applied arts that explore the relationship between craft and language.
The exhibition runs until 5 March at London Gallery West, a new gallery at the heart of the University of Westminster's Harrow campus which exhibits contemporary media, art and design work. The gallery showcases the work of the campus as well as hosting exhibitions of local, national and international artists.
The applied arts has long been understood and defined along national, cultural and etymological lines - often perceived as non-verbal and tradition-bound. Today it has taken on a deliberately more diverse and challenging character. 'Languages' reveals this practice in flux, with its borders continually challenged. While some artists hold on to the authenticity and the materiality of their chosen medium, others propose alternatives through the use of humour, irony and ambiguity.
Many works in the exhibition highlight the complex relationship between material processes and verbal or philosophical discourse. This issue is presented through the incorporation of text or metaphorical references to the 'writing' of the hand, the tool or the machine. Other works cross-reference the history of applied arts and its contemporary practice by articulating stories embedded in its changing social and cultural context.
New methods, media and techniques are introduced and the identity of the work is deliberately unclear: is it art, is it design, is it a new category of its own? Rather than providing a definitive answer, the exhibition 'Languages' proposes a number of alternative views on these questions.
Think Tank is a newly formed group of European art historians, theorists and writers engaged in a discussion on the theory and practice of applied arts. Each Think Tank member has chosen two works by two different artists. In individual ways these works reflect the positions and directions of applied arts in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. The selection brings together the works of well-known makers and young, recent graduates to create an exhibition which gives a qualified and intellectually stimulating report from the forefront of European applied arts.
'Languages' is a Think Tank initiative produced in association with London Gallery West, University of Westminster, Gallerie 422, Land Oberosterreich, Oberosterreich Landes Museen, Museum für AngewandteKunst Frankfurt, Danish Crafts, Premsela Dutch design foundation and Kunstindustri Museet.
20 January to 5 March 2006
London Gallery West
University of Westminster
Middlesex HA1 3TP
Think Tank Symposium
Languages: The Decorative Arts in Europe Today
10th February 2006, 14.00-17.00
At The Art Workers Guild,
6 Queen Square,
London WC1N 3AR
Admission is free, but places are limited. To book please contact Monica Grose-Hodge: firstname.lastname@example.org