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Major Exhibition Curated by Snøhetta Architects Presents New Nordic Art and Design
Daniel Rybakken (Norway), Night shot of daylight entrance, Stockholm, 2010. C-print/Diasec, 100 x 175 cm. Photo: Kalle Sanner and Daniel Rybakken.

NEW YORK, NY.- An exhibition of contemporary Nordic art and design opened at Scandinavia House on October 29, 2010. Nordic Models + Common Ground: Art and Design Unfolded is organized by The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF), New York, in collaboration with Norsk Form—The Foundation for Design and Architecture in Norway. The first in a series of programs celebrating ASF’s centennial, the exhibition is curated by the internationally renowned architecture firm Sn°hetta.

Nordic Models examines a diverse selection of works, including architecture, product design, fine art, graphic design, fashion, and photography by thirty-five emerging and established artists and designers. In so doing it offers a compelling look at contemporary Nordic art and design, highlighting shared practices and ideas and their global impact. All of the Nordic countries— Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden—are represented.

American-Scandinavian Foundation President Edward P. Gallagher states, “Nordic Models + Common Ground exemplifies the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to exploring contemporary developments in Scandinavia’s rich design tradition. Indeed, this tradition—a cultural gift to the world—is a large part of what ASF celebrates in its centennial year. We are grateful to Norsk Form and Sn°hetta for creating an informative and engaging exhibition that enables us to celebrate ASF’s legacy of cultural exchange from a contemporary vantage point.”

Exhibition curator and Sn°hetta co-founder Craig Dykers notes, “In curating Nordic Models + Common Ground, we purposefully disregarded national and artistic boundaries, emphasizing instead the powerful values and ideas that are shared by the Nordic countries and, by extension, by the diverse works highlighted in the exhibition. These commonalities transcend geographic, linguistic, and political differences, and have produced some of the most innovative art and design created today, work that is increasingly focused on making a positive impact on society as a whole. Indeed, the embrace of socially responsible design, which imbues the works in the exhibition, is an eloquent reflection of the egalitarian way of thinking that is at the heart of Nordic societies.”

The past fifty years have seen a flourishing of Nordic design projects that are not only focused on the social good, but that also demonstrate a high level of craftsmanship and functionality, as well as humor, cultural commentary, and the versatile application of new technologies. Nordic Models + Common Ground strives to represent both the diversity and shared characteristics of Nordic design by including a wide variety of works, ranging from a violin to textiles, from a public outdoor shelter to lamps made from dried codfish, and from necklaces to an apartment building.

In addition to curating the exhibition, Sn°hetta worked with the Brooklyn-based Situ Studio to design its dynamic installation. It will occupy a single, undivided gallery in which objects, models, and photographs will combine to both elucidate salient details of individual projects and reveal the characteristics those projects share with others on view. The perimeter of the gallery will be lined with large-scale (eleven-by-seventeen feet) photographs, with objects installed in front of them, while in the interior of the room, photographs and objects will be displayed on specially designed, freestanding plywood structures that have been folded into various shapes, all comprising both a platform for object display and a vertical panel for photographs. (In keeping with the environmental sensitivity common to all of the projects on view, the installation was produced without creating any physical waste.)

The projects included in Nordic Models will illuminate various themes, many relating to the crossing of boundaries—between individual and social identities, tradition and innovation, new materials and long-established forms, fine art and commercial culture. A violin designed by Hans Johansson, of Iceland, for example, will reveal the role of advanced digital technology in the fabrication of a traditional musical instrument, while the combination of time-honored building techniques and new materials will be seen in Kirnu, a pavilion designed by the Finnish architecture firm JKMM in which the fašade, made of a wood-plastic composite, was constructed with a shingle technique. Elsewhere, works such as Lava Flower, a limited-edition artwork by the Icelandic Studiobility/Gu­r˙n Lilja Gunnlaugsdˇttir, or the Spun Chair, by Danish designer Mathias Bengtsson, will demonstrate the innovative use of materials either found in nature or manmade.

Many of the artists and designers included in the exhibition bring to their work a focus on some of the physical and geological phenomena that shape life in the Nordic countries. Light, for example, is a focus of both Daniel Rybakken’s Daylight Entrance and Atelier Oslo’s Lantern House, both from Norway, while the historic reliance on the sea and its bounty is evoked by the “Uggi” Lights, surrealistic lamps made of codfish skins, created by Icelandic designers Fanney Antonsdˇttir and D÷gg Gudmundsdˇttir.

Nordic Models + Common Ground | Craig Dykers | Scandinavia House |

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