April 15, 2014

Steel Works

Last month there was a great exhibition at the Art Gallery (in the Culture House) by Gudrun Söderholm from Kalix, textile artist with weaving as her specialty. The name of the exhibition is "Stålverk" (= steel works) and she has mixed steel and textile, mostly flax. She uses damask and taqueté techniques and I have tried to figure out how that is done, but you know, I don´t know the first about weaving; I read the explanations and go "Huh?". It´s very impressive, I have been to see it several times in the last few weeks and I am in awe of it.

A local critic didn´t like it much, though, he couldn´t see the point of it. I can´t help but think it´s a gender thing: he is male and a painter, she is female and a textile artist working with typically "male" materials that moreover have very little to do with traditional art. She is very, very neat in her execution, the works look almost machine made - you know, perfect in every detail. From my knitting days I remember that "your knitting looks like it´s machine knit" was praise from some people and definitely not praise from others, who think that imperfection is the characteristic of hand-made crafts, and elevates the work from cheap mass production. In this case, I think that the machine-like perfection is part of the artistic message.

Yes, I certainly see the point of this, and think there is much food for thought in Söderholm´s work. It has made me think much recently about the merging in later years of the traditionally male and female worlds, clashes of materials and work ethics, and of how things inhabit identity and value. Kerstin Gezelius in Dagens Nyheter wrote an interesting column this week about "Game of Thrones" and how writers of late has started to mess with the DNA of traditional fairy tales and mythologies, to "reprogram the future/present". I think that Söderholm´s work is somehow related to that.

Unfortunately she does not seem to have her own website, but I did find some more of her works here. And I´m sorry I left it so long to post this - the exhibition ended last Sunday (in case you are in Luleå).


  1. not seeing the point of art seems to me to miss the point ;) sometimes art doesn't have a point beyond the point of the artist wanting to express a certain vision. i wonder about that art critic's agenda.