Legends & myths from the arctic - Aviaaja Ezekiassen
The aim of the project is to initiate a dialogue about what Greenlandic crafts and designs are, and what direction it is going or could go in the future. With great societal changes over the past century, going from a hunting community to a western way of living, changes in art and culture have followed, and will continue to do so. The question is “how should Greenlandic art, crafts and design reflect the society Greenland is today and in the future?”
In 2014 I was a student, and in the early stage of the concept phase of a new design project relating to sustainability, within the wood industry, as a topic.
Our tutor came to check in at the studio. She sat next to me and looked at my sketches. Her first comment was that I should design something showcasing my background as a Greenlandic.
“Make it in sealskin.” She said.
I didn’t answer. I needed a minute to reflect, and she moved on to the other students for supervision.
As I sat there in silence, I overheard the conversation between our tutor and the other students. I noticed that the sky was their limit. They were not bound to anything. Not bound to their heritage. Only wood, as it was the assignment given.
At that moment I felt limited.
Limited to my heritage as a greenlander; the stigmas and expectations that sometimes follow. Limited to sealskin, as I imagine the Greenlandic artist Kunngi felt limited to painting landscapes.
That was the first time I asked myself “what does characterize Greenlandic design?”
- Aviaaja Ezekiassen
So what defines Greenlandic design?
The Seven Subjects project does not give you the answer which is extremely important to emphasize. Following statements are my observations and perceptions in an attempt to describe or define Greenlandic design from my point of view. All in order to create contemporary or prospective interpretations. I hope that this written document as well as the artworks/’subjects’ will initiate a dialogue on how we can challenge the framework in the creative field of Greenlandic crafts and design. And whether or not we should do so.
For the seven ‘subjects’ I’ve used elements of my list of keywords, crafting traditions combined with post-industrial manufacturing methods together with addressing today’s influences on society - whether it’s climate change, sustainability, or a talk about diversity, and translated them into contemporary forms of today and the future.
Symbols and recognizable motifs
Form follows function and what is given
A special thanks to the funds:
Sermeq Puljen, Aage og Johanne Louis Hansen Fonden Fonden and Danish Art Foundation for making this project possible.
Thanks to Danish Art Workshop for giving me the space and quiet sorroundings to do my research. And for the workshop to make Paddle chair.
Thank you to all collaborators:
Det Grønlandske Hus i København Aarhus, Aalborg and Odense/Nordatlantisk Hus i Odense, Kunsthal Nord, and Katuaq.
To all the skilled craftsmen:
Kasper Marx, Anders Raad (Raadglas) and Johanne from Flilip Stenhugger.
For moral support and helping on the project: My family, my parents Lisa and Johan Ezekiassen, my siblings Marie and Flent, my friends/colleagues Siri Paulsen, Linnea Ek Blæhr, Monica Steffensen, Monique Consentino.
And to Lizzi Damgaard (Selskabet for Kirkelig Kunst) and Ode Projects.
Sponsors of Katuaq: