Åbäke (2000, UK)
Changes in the way we look at things as well as transmission of knowledge are Åbäke’s starting points in the exhibition Cmd-P for
Cultural shifts can be caused by new discoveries. But power structures, usually personified in an individual, are subject to change as well; in their turn they affect, for instance, who determines what is included in the Allard Pierson’s collections and what is not. The way collections are accumulated and change over time helps determine how an object or printed work may undergo changes in function and meaning. Åbäke visualizes the traces of such norm shifts in a futuristic-archaeological context, magnifying the future status of print. Will the masters and tools of printed works of art become more important than the paperwork of art? What is the real difference between a digital image and a print? When will an artist or designer fall from grace and disappear from an institute’s canon?
Åbäke also takes into account the local, institutional surroundings of the printed work of art: the various types of organization that produce, present, archive, and distribute it. The relevance of these organizations’ existence also evolves. What will a museum, graphic-arts centre, or graphic studio look like in 2079? Will museums still exist, with visitors who are physically present? Apart from the hierarchical relationships in rather abstract types of organization, the fragile relationships between the people working there come into play as well. This Human Pyramid, a social machinery, is fragile where the transfer of knowledge is concerned. Technical and inside knowledge of the printed medium has become scarce. They are often possessed by individuals; how can they be transferred to the next generation?
The collective Åbäke was founded in 2000 and consists of Maki Suzuki, Kajsa Ståhl, Benjamin Reichen, and Patrick Lacey. Graphic design is the connection between the four artists and the starting point of their work. Graphic design positions itself between art disciplines and the public. Åbäke takes this middle position as an invitation to a collaborative and critical practice, with the collective inviting the audience to participate.
Åbäke brings about a subtle shift in our perception of reality. Graphic design is the starting point for looking at other intermediate cultural phenomena, which can result in performative exhibitions and lectures, art publications, fashion labels, eating sessions and seminars—depending on the moment, the context, and the dodging of regulations.