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Contemporary Conceptual Crafts

One lucky reader will win a ticket to attend the BNO Symposium Crafted: On Conceptual Crafts happening in Amsterdam on 19 April. Read on to find out more!

By Editor / 01-04-2009

On Sunday 19 April 2009, the BNO-organised symposium Crafted will take place at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam.

Experts and practitioners will examine contemporary developments in conceptual crafts and at how materials, past influences, and current social and economic circumstances are dealt with. Issues to be explored include: what concrete function do traditional skills have in the creative processes of conceptual crafts and design? Is a knowledge of and dedication to traditional trades necessary for innovation and for the development of new techniques and materials? Are unique, crafted objects the answer to the demand for sustainability or do they constitute a new form of luxury?

The speakers include; Liesbeth den Besten (art historian and co-founder of Think Tank, A European Initiative for the Applied Arts) who will speak on ‘de-skilled crafts’ or the evolution of Dutch conceptual crafts and the need for new skills; Hans Abbing (photographer, part-time economist and sociologist and author of a book about the unusual economy of the arts called 'Why are Artists Poor?') will talk about the changing economic and social position of the maker of conceptual crafts, who operates in between fine art and industrial design; Warren Seelig (artist and distinguished visiting professor in the Craft Department at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, curator, and writer) will talk on the subject ‘New Material Thinking’. This talk will present the work of artists who employ craft as a creative force by maximising the power of hand-made objects to communicate ideas that are relevant now and for the future. All lectures will be held in English.

Additionally, invited designers will make quick visual presentations about their work in conceptual crafts. They include Maaike Roozenburg, Erik Kuiper, Hil Driessen, Babs Haenen, Monique Horstmann, Machteld van Joolingen and Doreen Westphal.

The symposium marks the launch of the publication by BNO of Vrije Vormgeving. Mapping Dutch Conceptual Crafts. The book charts themes and visions surrounding contemporary and possible future developments in Dutch conceptual crafts. It covers a broad selection of work in the field from Chew Your Own Brooch by Ted Noten to the fairy-tale table Godoga, crafted in Indonesia by Niels van Eijk and Miriam van der Lubbe. In six short articles, attention is paid to the economic circumstances of artists working in conceptual crafts, their position in between the fine arts and industrial design, the importance of sensitivity to both materials and skills, and the place of conceptual crafts from an international perspective. The authors are Patrick Aarts and Rob Huisman (project manager and director of BNO respectively), Liesbeth den Besten, Love Jönsson (curator, critic and lecturer at Göteborg University Sweden), Dingeman Kuilman (director of Premsela), Louise Schouwenberg (design critic and lecturer at the Design Academy) and Warren Seelig. The book is edited by Monika Auch, a practitioner of conceptual crafts. From 19 April the book can be ordered through the BNO website and copies will be on sale during the symposium at a reduced rate.

To go in the running to win a ticket, subscribe to the newsletter and email your name and postal address to info (at)
Entries must be sent before 9 April 2009.

Crafted. On Conceptual Crafts
Date: Sunday 19 April 2009
Time: 11:00 until 18:30
Location: Pakhuis De Zwijger
Address: Piet Heinkade 179, Amsterdam
Prices: € 55 / BNO members: € 35 / Students: € 20 (incl. lunch, coffee & tea, drinks, book discount)
Please see the website for registration details.

Logo design: Suzanne Rietdijk and Frederike Top with Groene Honden
Images: spreads from the book Mapping Dutch Conceptual Crafts

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