See the World VERSUS – Dare to See It All!
Pia Wirnfeldt, Director,
CLAY Museum of Ceramic Art Denmark
We challenge you to experience the world
backwards. An invitation that furthermore has
something significant to say about the artistic
drive which motivates the VERSUS group
and their conceptual form of expression,
which pushes the boundaries of ceramics.
VERSUS is composed of five progressive
ceramicists, Ane Fabricius Christiansen,
Camille Rishøj Nielsen, Lea Mi Engholm,
Mariko Wada, and Sissel Wathne, who since
2007 have made a mark thanks to a series
of remarkable exhibitions. In 2010 with
Nature Morte – Ceramics as Image, which
took genres as its theme, in 2012 with the
process-oriented exhibition Meditations on
a Hobby Horse, in 2014 with she, an
installation which debated gender issues,
and most recently with the current exhibition
TALISMAN – Magic Objects at CLAY
Museum of Ceramic Art Denmark, which is
the grandest statement of the group so far.
Taking ceramic craft and techniques as their
starting point, VERSUS constantly challenge
the mental habits and traditional genres of
ceramics. For VERSUS, ceramics is far from
just a matter of technique, form, and function,
but of exploring the character of clay with the
senses, and of seeking the limits of ceramics
thematically and conceptually.
This occurs in the field between material,
scenography, and form, though never
understood as a static form of expression,
since the viewer is always activated as a
co-creator of meaning in their works.
With the exhibition TALISMAN – Magic
Objects the group marks its 10th anniversary.
Faced with this installation we are, like Alice
in Wonderland, led into a world full of
mystery and magic. To a subtle world of
strange objects, which are simultaneously
experienced as physically present and
metaphysically dreamy. Along the path that
snakes through the darkened rooms, our
gaze is caught by the lighted, almost magical
objects, which poetically throw their shadows
along the walls. They are ceramic objects
which in form and technique vary greatly, and
which at one and the same time awaken
associations and seem exotically unfamiliar.
Dark Secrets, Dreamcatcher, Tree of Life,
Embrace Your Inner Demon, Transformation,
Empathy, Dare to See It All, and Courage.
These are the titles of some of the works in
the installation, which like leitmotifs —
together with the composition of the objects
— encourage the viewer to find meaning
through contemplation and reflection.
A meaning which isn’t given but depends,
precisely, upon the one who looks.
The ceramic objects in the space possess
the power of the talisman. They each possess
some magical qualities which go beyond
physical reality; in other words some supernatural forces — both good and evil. In this
sense the talismanic object bridges what
we can and can’t see with the naked eye.
Between the physical and the spiritual world,
between logic and belief and superstition,
between the conscious and the unconscious.
The concept of the talisman is itself a
phenomenon known in many cultures, and
is generally seen as an expansion of human
sight. As an object that allows for greater
insight into oneself and new understanding,
but only as long as we dare to let go of reason
and believe in the talisman’s special magic.
VERSUS invite us on a journey along this
meandering road of sensual, subtle ceramic
objects. A journey from the physical to the
metaphysical, from the external to the internal, from reason to emotion. To a world full of
aesthetics, poetry, mystery and magic, that
brings a discourse about belief and superstition into our modern, rational world. A world
much larger than the one we are immediately
able to comprehend, and which forms the
basis for new understanding. The recipe for
the release of magic is ‘to see the world
VERSUS’ and ‘to dare to see it all’