The European Capital of Culture 2014 is Umeå, a town in north of Sweden. This is celebrated by presenting many different kind of exhibitions and events all around the region. One of them is Next Level Craft, an exhibition that aims to show craft in a fresh, modern way by mixing “street art, high fashion, pop culture and electronic music with everything from wool embroidery, weaving and felting to root binding, turning and birch bark braiding”.
The modern intention is made obvious with a display illuminated by neon lights and the electronic soundtrack composed by Elias Grind playing in the background. Next level Craft presents a variety of beautiful, well made pieces that are interesting and fantasy stimulating, but the display is contra productive. The neon lights hides a lot of the pieces’ details and makes it hard to discover their full dimensions. Some of the work are shown on white display dummies looking like they could have been used for selling low price garments for children, and the curatorial idea of creating a magic wedding (between the different expressions? ) turns out more like an abandoned playground.
An interesting example of how to combine traditional craft with new art expressions is the movie Slöjd + Voguing = Sant! made by the curator of the exhibition Aia Jüdes especially for this project. Two of Sweden’s best vogue dancers, Anna ”Ninja” Näsström and Fredrik Quiñones, performs a battle to the beats and sounds of sloyd, supported by a strong crew of crafters.