Mårten Medbo Contemplates The Stolen Fire

”During my time as a doctoral student, I had the opportunity to reflect more deeply on my own artistic practice.”

“I understood that as a ceramist I was in a field of tension between the craft tradition and the modern concept of art. Simply put, the craft tradition can be seen as a preservation of previous generations’ knowledge and contemporary art as one of the ultimate expressions of modernity where innovation and questioning of the past are at the center. This tension is at the core of this exhibition. Although modernity with its science and technology promises a brighter future, it also seems to carry with it the threat of its own downfall.

For one, the threat atomic bomb is as relevant today as it was in the 70s and 80s when I grew up. My generation was marked by the fear of the atomic bomb. During the work on the exhibition, I was told about a book -100 Suns by Michael Light – which came to mean a lot both artistically and emotionally for my work. There is something eerily magnificent in the enormous destructiveness of the atomic bomb, which in a dizzying way becomes clear in the book.

Today there is not as much talk about the threat from the atomic bomb. Maybe because other serious problems have surfaced and come to the fore. Today, the climate threat and the threat of a sixth mass extinction seems to be at the forefront. In one sense, the work with the exhibition Stolen Fire has been a way to investigate and set my own craft experience in motion. Wheel throwing has been sat as a frame for my work and everything in the exhibition is thrown. Many hours have been spent at the potter’s wheel.

The work has been very repetitive. I experience this type of craftwork as mentally restful, even if it sometimes also tempts the body. It gives me a pause in my unrest. Hence, on a personal level, a kind of tension arises between the dark themes in the exhibition and the calming effect of the craft itself has on me. My hope is that similar tensions remain in the finished works where the meticulous craftsmanship shapes the dystopian theme.”

Mårten Medbo’s identity as an artist lives side by side with his identity as a craftsman and above all-wheel thrower. Through craftsmanship and clay, he meets his surroundings in a very concrete way. Medbo has been living outside Katrineholm for the past six years. For several years he has been engaged in artistic research and in 2016 he became the country’s first doctor of ceramics.



Images with courtesy of Mårten Medbo


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