Five Questions with Janne Krogh Hansen
The Jewelry Artist Talks to Denmark In New York about the launch of Danish Arts in the USA in Houston
Design and crafts, architecture, visual arts, music and dance. Denmark sure has a lot to offer when it comes to culture! But even though Denmark is a small country, we still make sure our cultural heritage and innovations make it on the big stage.
Now, thanks to the four-year Danish Arts in the USA initiative, Danish culture will make its way across the United States and land in six very unique cities — Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Austin, Los Angeles and Seattle — showcasing the best and brightest of the Danish cultural milieu alongside key local stakeholders and partners.
We sat down with Janne Krogh Hansen, renowned Danish jewelry artists, whose work will be featured at the Danish Arts in the USA launch in Houston, Texas, to talk about why the initiative is so important for the US-Denmark cultural dialogue.
Denmark In New York: Statecraft: Selections from the Jewelry Collection of the Danish Arts Foundation opens March 15. Can you tell us a little bit about the exhibition?
Janne Krogh Hansen: The Danish Arts Foundation’s Jewelry Collection is a collection of jewelry with high artistic quality, made by some of the most esteemed and experimental jewelry artists in Denmark. The Jewelry Collection comprises approximately 300 pieces of jewelry purchased by the foundation since 1978. In 2007, the Danish Arts Foundation decided to make the collection accessible to the Danish citizens. Since jewelry is made to be worn, the idea was to make them available to loan for Danish citizens to wear when participating in official and public events, thus making sure the jewelry is worn as well as shown.
DNY: What makes this jewelry exhibition so special?
The fact that the jewelry can be borrowed and worn by Danish citizens is very special and in some ways it shows that the jewelry belong to the Danish people. The loan scheme is a beautiful idea, which also reflects a trustful relationship between state and citizens.
The exhibition in Houston will be the first time for the Jewelry Collection to be shown in the United States. At the same time, the exhibition marks the first manifestation of an ambitious new initiative in the US by the Danish Arts Foundations’ Committee of Crafts and Design.
DNY: What is your favorite piece and why?
The necklace No Title by Castello Hansen. This piece was created in a collaboration between Castello and his — a that point — five year old daughter. Castello’s daughter created the chain and Castello himself the pendant for the necklace. This resulted in a colourful chain made up of children’s pearls, small toy figures and a classic Castello Hansen pendant in a twisted form covered with a transparent, strong red varnish under which one senses some precious metal. The story behind the piece is that Castello was invited to take part in an exhibition — an offer that he could not decline. To meet the requirement of including readymades in the exhibition Castello paid off his daughter’s design by giving her a lollipop.
Another great piece, which is featured in the exhibition is Marie-Louise Kristensen’s Nothing has been swept under a rug — a small rug with precious stones which are attached to the backside of a brooch. The title hints to a political scandal and is a direct quote from a former Danish prime minister.
DNY: You are a jeweller yourself and one of your own pieces will feature in the exhibition. What is the story behind your piece?
The piece is called In Bits and Pieces and it is about relations, intimacy and absence. It serves as an attempt to shape a ‘presence’ in an emotional context. The piece was part of the exhibition: ‘When you wake up you will find me — will you find me when you wake up.’ The exhibition was presented at Goldfingers — a gallery that I run together with my husband — and later on for the spring exhibition at Charlottenborg. The piece is made from Japanese silver burned in a kiln like ceramics.
DNY: What sort of response or traction do you hope the exhibition will generate in the US?
I hope that the Americans will be inspired by not only the quality and narratives of the jewelry, but also the idea behind the collection, which is to bring high quality art to as many citizens as possible. I also hope that people will notice the trustful relationship between state and citizens.
As already mentioned, an ambitious new initiative in the US by the Danish Arts Foundations’ Committee of Crafts and Design will unfold within the next few years, hopefully showing many variations of contemporary Danish design — from unique pieces to design solutions. I hope that the exhibition at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft will mark the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between Danish and American crafts- and design Professionals as well as institutions.
Ema Seferovic (Press and Communications Intern) and Johanne Guttman Andersen (Culture Intern) at DenmarkInNY.