Until 2nd June, in the spaces of Aquapetra Gallery, Hold me, Honey, Soothe me, a personal exhibition by the Danish designer Alberte Agerskov (Copenhagen, 1993). To be recalled are ancient initiation rites through archetypal forms and materials such as stone, earth, water, fire and beeswax. The project was born from the collaboration with Swing Design Gallery.
Your work appears poised between art and design. A beautiful attempt to combine Land Art, Spatialism and design. What has been your path?
It all started from the body. I was a dancer when I was younger, and later became very fascinated by yoga. When I was 19, I moved to India to become a yoga teacher in Ashtanga yoga, a rigid practice which connects you holistically to your mind and your body and allows you to re-insert yourself into the space. Straight from India I moved to Paris to teach yoga and after I decided to move back to Copenhagen to study architecture. Studying I became very fascinated by the aesthetics and the ideas behind American art movements, such as Fluxus and Land Art. Richard Serra, Nancy Holt, Donald Judd, Joseph Beuys and Ana Mendieta all worked with elements that interest me, inserting traces, marks and objects into the landscape. They taught me of the artwork that evolves beyond our control, pushing us to evolve as well, and I took a lot of inspiration from them, which I still do. After the Academy I worked for Pezo Von Ellrichshausen (Chile), Studio Mumbai (India, France) and learned a great deal about what interested me: materials, landscapes, bodies, objects and stories. All my projects are grounded in a curiosity of material meetings and therefore they often slide between architecture and art. And between those two I found design.
How did the meeting with Angela da Silva of the Swing Design Gallery come about?
My former colleague, Eleonora Ghezzi, with whom I did several of my most important projects under the name Ghezzi Agerskov, has a house in Benevento. Through many visits in the area we ran into Angela, who proposed us to make a small object for EDIT Napoli. We created TA/Tray for Ashes: an ashtray in marble, which has been iconic for both Eleonora, Angela and I.
How did the project for Aquapetra come about? The link with the context has always been important in your work. What influence did the context have in this case?
Angela had long told me about this wonderful place. The place inspired me from a distance. It was a challenge, but also quite a drive: working in London and dreaming myself to the peaceful surroundings of Aquapetra, with smells of rosemary, olive, and agave… Aquapetra is architecturally thought through in every detail, and it is positioned well into the landscape, with no “hard” limits, letting the nature into the space, and inviting the space out into the nature, as seen in their sculpture garden.
In “Hold me, Honey, Soothe me” there is a constant reference to the female figure, if we think of the iconographic motifs that appear on the Honey Rug paintings on paper, in fact this is also evident in the ceramic works, The Carrier. What is the hidden symbolism and how does it connect with contemporaneity?
All works shown at Aquapetra Gallery are results of research that I’ve been doing at London Central Saint Martins for the past two years on the porosity of our ever-changing bodies, and the interaction between the landscape and the human being. I always have with my own sensorial perceptions in mind when I work, and as I meet the world from a female body this inevitably translates through to the final works. But to me, feminism goes beyond the female figure: I am concerned with the female energy within all bodies (and things). I hope my works talk to both women, men and non-binary people. It is important to start looking at “the feminine” differently, which is still very hard to speak about in Italy. Hydro-feminism is a theory from the writer and cultural theorist Astrida Neimanis, which underlines our bodies’ relation to water, and the importance of being in symbiosis with the waters flowing through and around us. The Carrier Vases are inspired by The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (by Ursula K. Le Guin) that Neimanis introduced me to. In Hold me, Honey, Soothe me, I think about how it was for me to grow from child to adult, and imagine a combination of made up and initiation rituals that would have helped me through in a more communal way. Each piece translates to being in constant movement, changing in relation to its context and its reader much like our readings of history.
Can you completely renounce the functional aspect in your works?
Rather than renouncing or announcing the degree of functionality in my works I would like for them to question what function means to each of us (which again is relative to the context). Or better, what does un-function means to us? If it means impractical and inefficient, I think it is time for us all to un-function a bit. And if dysfunctional means “not fitting in”, maybe we should ask ourselves what and who makes up this “functioning” majority.
What are your next projects?
In April I made a performance called FA/Fields of Ashes in Casa Vettese-Donati, supported by Giuditta and Angela Vettese, and we are currently working for the recordings and sound work from the performance to be shown in Milano in the fall. The project started at a residency in Via Farini in 2021. I have an ongoing collaboration with the architect Rasmus Schatter in Copenhagen and I also have a residency in Athens coming up, supported by the Athens Design Forum founder, Katerina Papanikolopoulos.
Alberte Agerskov, Hold me, Honey, Soothe me
02/04 – 02/06/2022
Aquapetra Resort & Spa
SS Telesina 1
Telese Terme, Benevento
Alberte Agerskov, Onice Secret, 2020. Honey onyx, green stone, ph Danilo Donzelli, courtesy Swing Design Gallery
Alberte Agerskov, Onice Secret Box, 2020. Honey onyx, green stone, 12 x 12 x 42 cm, unique piece, ph Danilo Donzelli, courtesy Swing Design Gallery
Alberte Agerskov, Honey Rug 7 Paintings, 2022. Fireplace charcoal, beeswax and pigment, 79 x 59,5 cm with frame (77 x 57,5 cm without frame), unique piece, ph Danilo Donzelli, courtesy Swing Design Gallery
Antonella Palladino, after graduating in Conservation of Cultural Heritage, continued her education at Fondazione Morra and Pan. She currently lives in Pavia and she is a professor of art history.