Let enthusiasm reign

By Ole Jensen, 1992. Dansk Kunsthåndværk, 1992.

By Ole Jensen, 2011

Form and Imagination
By Ole Jensen, 2012

The Hærvej Project
By Maria Desirée Holm-Jacobsen, 2010

Ole – Extraordinarily Ordinary
By Pernille Stockmarr, Design
Historian, 2006

Crafts 2003
By Ole Jensen, 2003

Things do not appear from nowhere
By Ole Jensen, 2000

New Studies
By Ole Jensen, 1996

Do we need new things?
By Ole Jensen, 1996

Water, jug and art
By Ole Jensen, 1994

Let enthusiasm reign
By Ole Jensen, 1992

The other day I stopped up at the new VW Passat. I’m apparently one of those
who has those tendencies. A particularly elegant solution had been found to
the design of the petrol-cap cover. A profile following the length of the entire
line of the car had been broken, thereby forming a fingerhold. A small detail.
But it aroused my interest and I felt strangely happy.

I certain felt happy, at any rate, on first glimpsing Phillipe Starck’ lemon squeezer on three legs. Even though the ‘classic’ avant-garde – the thing that
just seeks to be different – is probably no longer an end in itself, Starck’s
lemon squeezer is an uplifting example for the person who still believes in new
solutions to simple functions. Or rather, perhaps, forgotten solutions. What I
mean is – it has an appeal about the act of squeezing lemons about it that could
almost make me squeeze some more. Which would not be all that bad a thing,
either. It does not need to be healthy things, but once in a while you are
struck by this urge for things. An urge that cuts clean across what you actually
thought you could not do without. And it’s great when you come across things
that set you going.

The ability to be filled with enthusiasm is also probably one of the most
important traits to have when you spend your time sitting around messing
about things. It sometimes happens – rather infrequently, admittedly – but
it happens that in the morning I am almost looking forward to what I did the
previous evening. And that is something that really feels great. Just think,
you don’t always have to wonder if there is any release now. And a squeezed
spout and a couple of brushstrokes now and again are not something you have
to ask permission or. To rely on your enthusiasm and pleasure in objects does
not mean resignation in relation to industrial production. Rather the opposite.
In an age when production machinery, marketing and demand analyses profess
to tell us what can be done, or rather what cannot be done – and make both
the artists and the producer more or less incapable of acting – it is necessary
to examine what actually can be done. Demand analyses can be a safety
net that ensure you don’t make too much of a fool of yourself. But such
analyses can never create chances.

In summer 1991, at Spøttrup Borgmuseum, Tora Urup, Signe Højmark, Bente
Skjøttgaard and I organised the exhibition ‘Never Compromise on Quality’.
The point of departure for the exhibition was partly a mutual interest in each
other’s work, and partly a conscious use of reproduction as an important part
of our practice. Here is a quotation from the catalogue: “Reproduction is often
associated with barren uniformity and conformity in industrial production, with
the artist having to compromise on the genuineness and spontaneity of things.
We conceive reproduction as being a source of inspiration and a way of
becoming delving deeper into things.”

To turn a method into a source of inspiration and into the subject of a particular
investigation may not sound like the most poetic activity imaginable. But we
surround ourselves every day with items and objects that are the result of
methods and production. Things that exist in many identical copies. In millions
of them. For a long time, art craft has represented the diametrical opposite
of this – that which is distinctively unique. And that is a shame, both for art
craft and for the industrial products. We believe that mass-produced items
require just as much personal deliberation and planning as the unique work.
Although of a different nature. What the method of reproduction can do is
to maintain an idea. It makes it possible to limit and exclude, and is a means
of investigation and concentration. At the exhibition we displayed small series
of moulded and extruded ceramics and glass. A kind of studio production, with
everything this enables in the way of variation and special care for the items.
But while studio and workshop production is often seen as a here-and-now
alternative to out-and-out industrial production – which it may well be in some
cases – we view it to the highest degree as being the place which, via the
power of example, demonstrates and makes visible ideas and thoughts.
As a place where curiosity is legal.

It is possible to indulge in many complex and highly subtle reflections on the
relation between modern production and the irrational qualities of the individual
human being. But without any such subtlety I would like to assert that art craft,
seen as independence and good, solid craftsmanship, plays a much greater role
that it has been given credit for and that people to a certain extent have learnt
to live with. As a natural result of the rational production forms of industrial
society – and in many instances a lack of originality – the craftworker has
somewhat one-sidedly assumed the role of opposition and contrast to a modern
society. As a craftworker, one can of course choose to distance oneself entirely
from production so as not to risk losing one’s own originality – which in many
cases is a well-founded decision. But, on the other hand, if art craft is only to
exploit the niches allowed it by industrial production, one becomes dependent.
Art craft is not there to capitalise on the ‘holes’ large-scale production leaves
behind. Art craft is also an important part of what we call industrial production.

Everything has a price. Both what one does and what one refrains from
doing. That is why I neither wish to or am prepared to defend the idea that
independence, good craftsmanship and thereby the use of time and money
can be combined with a short-sighted mercantile view. Perhaps they cannot
be combined at all. But I very much wish to defend the ability of the individual
to exclude external mechanisms and disturbances for periods of time – or
maybe just moments – and thereby transform thought and action into reality.