MUNTHE ART MONDAY: BIRGITTE DUE MADSEN
Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do.
My name is Birgitte Due Madsen, artist and designer based in Copenhagen. The focus for my art is the connection between the material and the functionality, an exploration of the material and its embedded characteristics. I am from a tradition handcraftsmanship, and I actively use my workshop to shape ideas, sketching materials and creating a few pieces of the artworks, which is getting exhibited different places under 3daysofdesign.
In the latest creations I am mixing clean neon and argon gas with cast plaster models, to create an exhilaration light setting and at the same time a fascinating object in the room. Right now, I am focusing on the lightning and the influence the light has, like how it can transform a room if you mix white and colored light together in the same lightbulb, as I am currently doing with the neon lights.
The material characteristics changes when they get mixed with the light, where transparency and translucency become a new way of working. The light constellations ‘Neon Cast’, which can be seen at Alice Folker Gallery from 2 of June, is exhibited together with some of my other stone podiums, where the translucency in the onyx is getting presented and illuminated by the neon light.
Could you explain more about how being a woman has affected your career?
In a conversation about how it has influenced my career being a woman, I spoke with my intern Frederik Rosgaard, which in his bachelor project is researching about how we can create a feminist practice within design and craftmanship. The project researched the social sustainable aspect and focused on its included. Our field is dominated of an old-fashioned masculine and mercantile social structure, and where we don’t work with the same premises.
We get listened to differently and there is less attention to women, which is very time consuming and means that our career often takes longer to realize. It is exciting to watch a generation trying to challenge the status quo, the structure and creating new frameworks to work within. A conversation like that, between generations gives hope for things to change. But it is still lot of work from a conversation to have it implemented.
Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?
There are so many talented women out there. A small selection of those I have been inspired by is Coco Chanel herself. In 1917 she introduced The Nautical Collection, inspired by the French marines Breton stripe uniform, which she after a trip to the French coast got further inspired of. In doing so, she broke with the corseted fashion of the time and forever changed the look of the relaxed female clothing. Which is historical.
Another inspiration is the British artist Rachel Whiteread, who primarily works with sculptures, with primarily focus on its research of the positive and negative room, where absence becomes present. She was the first woman, who won the yearly Turner-price in 1993.
And the French artist Sophie Calle, for her subtle and poetic, but at the same time edgy depiction of the human vulnerability, where she is never afraid of exposing her own private story.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a female artist?
Of natural reasons we have fewer years on the labor market (our cycle, pregnancy, maternity, primary parenthood, menopause etc.), and we need to work harder to gain the accept we are reaching. The design world has historically been dominated of men, and there are still more successful men then there are women, professionally.
The inherent resistance can be related to that you need to top perform in slow-motion, without complaining. If the genders strength could be measured in a business plan, the Olympic medal would be female. Therefore, we need to talk about this in every opportunity we get, because there is a big difference. Women are still a marginalized driving force in the society and within this field, which is difficult to talk about. Look at our short time on earth and notice what the women do in the time available.
Factual and quite significant things I experienced at my many meetings with manly key partners and manufactures are for instance, when in the meeting, we talk about form and color for a new design, they talk to me. But when we talk about mechanics and technology, they talk with my partner and speaks with him. Also notice, how men highlights out each other’s points” Yes, like Ib, Bo or Peter just said..” You rarely do that with women.
There are a lot of comments which keeps hanging. When I asked for a common communication form, for cancelations of meetings etc. and got told from a woman leader, that I shouldn’t cause troubles or difficulties. A sentence you would never say to a man, because their opinions weigh differently. Or the man’s last name also gets mentioned in a full name sentence, while the woman only gets called for her first name. It is small things, men they make the determination.
What would you like people to notice in your artwork?
My work centers around craftmanship and quality, and for most time produced in my own workshop and by myself. With a content conscience and humility over the functionality and quality, my professionally integrity lies within the fascination of the long abstract project. It researches elements like materialist and aesthetics, which lets the product develop in an abstract form, before it formalizes.
Through an independent and informal approach, I am trying to integrate new materials like cast, resin, stone and cement and different techniques, textures and a tight playful geometry.
The beauty lies within the small details, like when the neon flicker in the tube on the new neon lights I am currently concentrating on. In a collaboration with All Matters Studio, we have developed a rug, which is the motive of my marble arts ‘Breton Cubes’. The material translation and the craftmanship from Swedish Ogeborg which produces the rug, is unnoticeable. The rug is called ‘Soft Marble’ and is part of an exhibition under 2daysofdesign at Nuyole, Store Regnegade 2, staged by All Matters Studio.