Karen Harsbo: Entropic Topology, 2013-2015
From Mount Gaolin via the Silk Route to Europe and back to the East …
An exhibition inspired by ceramic history and shows a special mapping of the history of materials in a personal universe.
“A residency in England at Spode Works, a derelict porcelain factory, has opened my curiosity for the history of porcelain.
- How it was invented in China when discovered how to process kaolin from Mount Gaolin.
- How it was painstakingly shipped via the Silk Route to Europe as the most precious gems.
- How alchemists experimented with the formula, and it later became a major industry in Europe with exports to the whole world.
- And how production is now back in the East.
It is a story that forms many routes and maps; and places are connected via camel routes through the desert or container routes across the sea.
It is routes of human curiosity and knowledge, of culture and traditions that are affected and changed.
I have been interested in the people who have been part of those places, – workers in the East and the West. Those who have been a tiny point on the big map and have passed on knowledge up through history. – And those who now no longer have their jobs, as at the closed Spode factory in Stoke on Trent, UK.
This has inspired a series of works with images, new and old, on porcelain. Some works are also about porcelain as materiality, – about constructing with a soft liquid material that becomes strong and hard, – and maintain a fluid character. A place between dissolution and construction – between chance and order.
The work was developed as part of the research project Topographies of the Obsolete, initiated at Bergen Art University.
Photos by Ole Akhøj
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