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‘Desire Utensil Container’: charting territory’s transformation into objects of desire
Exhibition view of Swedish artist Åsa Jungnelius’ Desire Utensil Container at the Spazio Nobile Gallery, Brussels
Image: © Margaux Nieto; Courtesy of Spazio Nobile

‘Desire Utensil Container’: charting territory’s transformation into objects of desire

Swedish artist Åsa Jungnelius’ solo exhibition at Spazio Nobile in Brussels addresses existential questions through sculptures with materialities of glass, marble and metal.

by Jincy Iype
Published on : May 29, 2024

Desire Utensil Container is the first solo exhibition of Swedish artist, sculptor and glassmaker Åsa Jungnelius at Spazio Nobile Gallery in Brussels, Belgium, which attempts to address existential questions through materiality. Running from March 22 - September 15, 2024, the show is replete with new sculptures in glass, marble and metal, as well as iterations of recurring objects in her artistic practice created for this site-specific installation, each representing a different technical approach and state of mind. Here, the gullible temperament of glass finds companionship with the grounded nature of the stone, in the company of steel’s silvery confines, as sculptural vessels tracing desire.

“In the process, new entities have emerged into this world, some recognisable, bearing traces of everyday utensils, others ephemeral, reminiscent of the corporeal. In the centre of the exhibition a symbol of rebirth has been placed, a piece of raw purple Egyptian porphyry. The Earth / Jorden and Desire are glass sculptures formed following the movement and gravity of the glass. Jungnelius explores the limits of the material and what the human body can control. This physical process is at the heart of the artist’s practice, the transformation of a territory into an object of desire,” mentions the press statement shared by the gallery, which has represented Jungnelius since 2021.

Since its opening in 2016, Spazio Nobile has strived to represent a niche sensitivity and commitment towards everything related to nature and minerality through collectible design and art pieces, limited editions and installations both artistic and experimental. Its founders, Lise Coirier and Gian Giuseppe Simeone combined their interest in creation and art history, to set dialogues between contemporary applied arts, design and photography.

Jungnelius lives and works in Stockholm and Månsamåla, Sweden. Her creative practice involves nurturing an exploration of materials that transition between ‘the monumental and the socially and psychologically constructed.’ Vis à vis an object’s physicality, the 49-year-old artist's efforts to question how identities and bodily desires are formed and expressed, something that permeates the design and art exhibition’s spirit. “Her interest in body and matter centres on questions of the constant renegotiation of these two entities throughout human history,” the gallery’s press statement reveals.

“Desire is present in some of my work, perhaps mainly to describe vulnerability and imperfection. Beauty for me is something you can rest your eyes on and find comfort in, but I often wonder why people think beauty is good?” Jungnelius says, in response to this question posed by Coirier, Co-founder and Gallery Director, Spazio Nobile—" What is the intrinsic value of desire in your work? Do beauty and aesthetics play an important role?”

She also explains how the three words in the exhibition's title, desire, utensil and container, relate to one another and what they stand for: “An abstraction—to be able to carry what we receive from life, but especially how we can give to each other. With the tools we have in our personalities, which are always sharpened and re-sharpened throughout life so that we can reach each other and our own earth. I see desire as both a window and a way out, but also as a force for progress.”

Believing that “to create with the hand is to think,” Jungnelius’ works, exhibited against a stark white expanse, unveil a deep-rooted exploration of materiality, in their individuality or as mixed media. This is witnessed within the Crackle Japanese Knotweed vase, the Utensil Container I, The Ham sculptures, or the Sconce candle holders—all in some way, expressive, sculptural design cavities.

On assembling and choreographing gestural objects of art and design employing mouth-blown glass, marble, stone and metal, Jungnelius reveals that she is simply drawn to these materialities. In the end, it is her intuition that leads the way, as the exhibited product designs and sculptural art pieces pronounce. “… the lava-like power of glass in its creation gives me an inner peace. Also, the repetitive movement and physical labour involved in the process… The artistic action and the work with stone, mostly the more malleable Carrara marble, is converted from the glass process. With the stone I slowly chew my way into the material; the slowness allows the sculpture to find its way further into my stomach and become my soil. The fact that the material is so clearly linked to a place and the eternity of the universe clarifies its use throughout art history and magnifies human smallness,” she conveys.

In its effusive material gestures, Åsa Jungnelius’ Desire Utensil Container might perchance, also invite rumination into our tangled history of production and purchasing, taking more than what we have given to our planet. Is this driven by our yearning to create more, the appeal of having more, to be surrounded by beauty? Do we honour this exchange? Is this desire a need, an addiction, or a curse? In the words of the sculpture artist: “I think about how we have moved and lived through the landscape throughout history and how in many places a pervasive chastening and impoverishing approach materialises the prevailing political structures, power relations and ideological perspectives of the time. We humans undeniably leave traces, some of which are completely irreversible. I try to understand what mechanisms drive us; is it desire that haunts us?”

Åsa Jungnelius’ ‘Desire Utensil Container’ is on view from March 22 - September 15, 2024, at the Spazio Nobile Gallery, Rue Franz Merjay 142 & 169, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium.

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