Slow Art-The National Museum Part I

It should come as no surprise that life in Sweden moves at a slower pace. The very elements demand one slows down–given the dark, the cold, the long winter. It makes sense then, that the National Museum in Stockholm should have an exhibition entitled, Slow Art. The objects on display were made slowly, using complicated techniques or at the very least, repetitive ones—like the silver pitcher hammered by hand from a sheet of steel. According to curator Cilla Robach, the art chosen to be on display “advocate[s] a life that is not governed by the constant battle against the clock, by profit-thinking and short-term consumerism.”

Works like this one (below), a tapestry, created by Annika Ekdahl in 1955, titled “Road Movie: Visiting Mom, 2010” takes time, a lot of time, about a month of time for each square meter. I’m not positive how many square meters this was, but I assure you it was gigantic!

Detail of tapestry

Of course there is no turning back once you begin to weave. She had to be absolutely certain from the beginning what her plan was, then have the patience and stamina to execute that plan over months, even years. When tapestries can be made on machines and art works, (think of how many), could have made during the course of a year, the act of making something this monumental was part madness. That makes it, in my estimation, true art.

Loved the sculptures by Eva Hild.

White Sculpture

Before I continue, I will mention that there were some works I didn’t photograph, sorry, the pair of “Cinderella Slippers,” made out of paper and needles sticking out at all angles, (ouch), frankly, gave me the creeps, but then again, maybe it was suppose to. It’s art.

I did photograph for you the beautiful and vibrate prints of pressed flowers. There were more than a few actually, filling an entire wall. The patterns and colors were lovely to see.

Then there was the necklace made out of eggshells and pearls. Fragile and luminescent, it sat under a glass display case, lit from below, making the shells all the more transparent.

Helena Sandstrom, 1999

And this is where the genius (or ridiculousness of art, we could argue) comes into play. Who would have thought to put that together? But isn’t it somehow poetic? For me it was about the adornments we wear being in reality so breakable and “transparent.” What we put on being in truth not so truthful? But then again, it could mean something else entirely.

One of my favorite pieces was the work entitled “Red,” by Cecilia Levy, 1963.

It was made from teeny tiny cut up pieces of old books and meticulously glued into the form of a bowl. The information written next to the display explained: the “process is only partially controllable; what the bowl will look like on the inside emerges only when it is done, and then it is too late to make changes or corrections.”

I got the sense that the artist was making a statement about how we are each like a bowl, forming ourselves over time, a work in progress, not knowing exactly how we’ll turn out but consciously or not, each day adding a little knowledge here and there until what we hold inside becomes the final outcome.

Only, I’d like to believe we’re not so random, that we have control over what form and shape we take, that each of us, in our own way, is an artist too, piecing together (or hammering away) at our lives until, eventually, we’ll arrive at ourselves. Maybe it would be a good idea to slow down, not rush so much, take our time and use each day to progress just a little…not more. Good things take time, maybe even a lifetime.

Ideas for Living Slow:

Make homemade ravioli without a machine. Who does that anymore? (My point exactly.) And why not make some slow cooked beef stroganoff, but not in your “Slow Cooker,” no, no, that would be too fast. See…this is hard.

Instead of doing a cardio workout, try Yoga or Body Balance—lots of stretching is good for the soul too.

Sit down when you kids (or husband) get home from school/work. In a chair that is, not in the car while you’re on the way to somewhere else. Let them tell you about their entire day while you give eye-contact. Don’t make dinner, no folding clothes, just listen. It’s a tough one. Multi-tasking is how I get things done. Maybe try for one afternoon not getting things done.

Read Tolstoy.

5 Comments on “Slow Art-The National Museum Part I

  1. Thanks for sharing Lana. It was a pleasure slowing down to read this entry. Love the “red” bowl…..intrigued by the tapestries… I might even attempt ravioli! 🙂
    Love u!

    • The first time I met you, you were decorating pumpkins with the boy scouts using pinecones and objects found in nature. Right then and there I knew you were my hero! You knew about Slow Living before it even became a buzz word. Love you!

  2. I found this post on Pinterest. What gorgeous displays of art.. and wonderful photos. My favorite way to create..using old or found or both. “Slow” has been so lost in my culture though I believe it’s making a bit of a comeback. This is very inspiring. Thank you!

    Peaceful wishes..
    Tamara

  3. I don’t usually comment twice, but I re-read your post and I had to come back and say that your words are most inspiring and thought-provoking as well. And I love Leo Tolstoy.
    Keep the wonder 🙂
    Tamara

    • Thank you Tamara! I agree, “slow” is coming back in the form of arts, crafts, cooking…anything that takes time and focus. Science is proving what art has always known, it’s good for our minds and hearts to create.
      Best,
      Lana

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