That was then... This is now is a group exhibition made to discuss the position of craft today. Curated by Heidi Bjørgan with works by Pia Aleborg, Bjørn Båsen, Erik Hellsten, Maria Johansson, Åsa Jungnelius, Göran Kling, Håkan Lindgren, AnnaSofia Mååg, Marianne Pedersen and Anders Ruhwald.

With That was then... This is now Bjørgan picks up a discussion from 2002: The point of departure for this project is the exhibition Made in Scandinavia [1], an exhibition which debated the dividing lines between design, visual art and craft from a craft maker’s point of view. It introduced a broad range of works in metal, textiles, glass and ceramics by up and coming artists and designers from Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, and was shown at Galleri Temp during the Bergart festival programme of Hordaland Art Centre in 2002.

Through Made in Scandinavia a selection of works was selected which could present ‘the new design’ emerging from Scandinavian art colleges at the time. In 2002 attitudes and tendencies emerged which emphasised a humoristic-conceptual and playful approach to design and craft, often in combination with exhibition and presentation techniques taken from visual art.

What has traditionally been defined as craft is today in a less clearly defined landscape; it can just as easily appear labeled as design or visual art. That was then... This is now discusses issues relating to positioning and defining what we understand as craft today. What we are supposed to understand as craft is the subject of a discourse voicing contradictory arguments.

This exhibition asks: Do the practitioners seek a common undefined area where genres flow into each other and where everything is allowed? How can craft makers preserve craft’s starting point in materials? Do we want to preserve craft’s starting point? This, in turn, raises a number of supplementary questions: what directions have the tendencies displayed in the 2002-exhibition taken? Where are the participants in the landscape of art, design and ideas today, and what new tendencies can we see outlined? 

In her research Bjørgan has revisited some of the exhibitors who participated in 2002, and sought out art graduates from the Nordic art colleges in order to shed light on these questions. Bjørgan was at the outset of the project curious to map whether artists today have become even more conceptual or whether they have turned more towards design. Or perhaps we will see a return to more traditional craft? As a practicing artist and curator, it is Bjørgan’s aim to pick up and focus on movements in contemporary craft, something many arenas for Norwegian art fail to cover which in turn represents a loss for both the public and for craft makers. By showing the exhibition at Hordaland Art Centre, which has traditionally been an arena for craft and visual art, she wishes to re-establish craft as relevant to this art institution and the general public. This project provides the curator, the institution and the audience with a chance to challenge the perception of what craft is or can be.

As an integral part of the exhibition, the one-day seminar Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe... will discuss the issues the exhibition raises. A publication containing relevant texts will also be produced.


[1] Made in Scandinavia was shown by Galleri Temp, where Heidi Bjørgan was memeber from its inception, as part of Hordaland Art Centre's BergArt festival contribution. Bjørgan acted as project supervisor and principal curator for Made in Scandinavia.




The exhibition is supported by City of Bergen, Culture Point North, The Norwegian Association of Arts and Crafts, The Norwegian Association of Arts and Crafts West Norway and Arts Council Norway.
The exhibition is produced by Hordaland Art Centre.