This object may seem similar to the sculptures shaped in the form of utility articles and implements that we often encounter within contemporary ceramics. However, the crucial aspect of this particular work, unlike so many others’, has nothing to do with the transformation of its meaning brought about by a distancing effect that is created when a utility object is removed from its original function and placed in an art context. What is emphasised instead is the instrumentality, the action, the linkage to the physical world. In broad terms, a wedge is an implement that is used to make wider an opening, to create space between things, or to break up and split something. What the question concerns here is exactly the ability of the crafts to create a place for themselves and then expand it.
Jakob Robertsson’s ceramic wedge is simultaneously a sort of parody of a consumer good, complete with product information, directions for use, and a barely legible warning label that states: “This wedge is made of ceramics and created by hand. The wedge falls under the concept of crafts. It is an object that can be wedged into smaller spaces. Note: The wedge drives in and occupies space.” And further: “WARNING. Should you plan to place the wedge between for example an object and a human being, you will need to proceed with adequate caution to avoid putting the person in question in harm's way. Always alert the person in question of your intentions in a timely fashion so that she or he can carefully consider them. Keep the wedge away from children.”
The humorous tone only thinly veils the seriousness of the artistic intent. The wedge reflects an awareness of the fact that the crafts still do not have a clearly defined position and an obvious standing, and therefore must constantly conquer their place anew. Yet the work also affirms the possibility of this conquest. True, the ceramic wedge appears fragile and seems to require cautious treatment from its user – “a hammer would shatter it, ” as observed by one commentator; but it also exudes confidence and strength.
The work is representative of the kind of crafts that today concern themselves with the position of their own field. Jakob Robertsson makes references to the utility side of the traditional crafts so familiar to us, but at the same time casts light on the subversive potential hidden within it. Here it is a question of the ability of the crafts to infiltrate and influence the society, but also about how the young makers of Jakob Robertsson's generation make claims for and define their own space within the field and its traditions.
Jakob Robertsson (b. 1971 Sweden) is a ceramist and lives in Stockholm.
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