What is this sorcery? – A Modern Handicraft Exhibition

Whoever said handicrafts are boring and more appropriate for grandmothers than youngsters was downright wrong. We’re not only witnessing a resurgence of handicrafts in various novel forms, but we’re also witnessing a time when they’re finally, as a medium, able to deliver more than just subtle and/or subversive messages of resistance. The video director of this music video and trailer for the Next Level Crafts exhibition – Aia Jüdes has sensed that current and delivered a multi-media treat that features music, voguing, dance, fashion and handicrafts in a cocktail never served in this particular combination and this chilled before. 

Photography: Aia Jüdes
Photography: Aia Jüdes

This is not the first time we come across mix and match technique in creating art. According to artist Jacobly Satterwhite, we’re living in the age of remix: “There’s no such thing as originality anymore – now it’s just about how you use information around you to generate individuality”. We can create meaningful art by simply knowing all the elements and mixing them in a carefully planned manner. This is exactly what Next Level Craft does by mixing handicrafts and voguing, which are cultural traits coming from different scenes and different continents, a sphere is created in which art is once again a trigger for novel experiences, awe and inspiration. There’s no doubt about achieving individuality, and we’re also witnessing some of the good globalization has brought upon us. 

Photography: Aia Jüdes
Photography: Aia Jüdes

The connection between handicrafts and voguing is so natural; they complement each other to such extent that we truly wonder why anyone hasn’t done this before. “Show me hands, beautiful hands…”, goes the line in the tune by Elias Grind, suggesting a notion that we are mostly human by what we can achieve with our hands. The mystical line between handicrafts and voguing is not at all stretched out – they both involve hands as their main means of expression and both draw agency from the very communities they stem from. Handicrafts producing fashion items compliment the performative aspect of voguing, playfully suggesting to: act the part, dress the part, wear the part.

Photography: Aia Jüdes
Photography: Aia Jüdes

The director of this music video and a truly authentic exhibition trailer Aia Jüdes was kind to chat with us about her video. As it turns out, she also curated this exhibition.

How did the idea to create a music video as an exhibition trailer come about?

– As an artist and curator, my creative universe is often built on crossovers between traditional handicraft and modern expressions – mixing impulses from various subcultures, pop culture and fashion. I love playing with contrasts; mixing different worlds in a way that is playful and unexpected, yet finding a way to put them together so they make sense. I was approached by The National Swedish Handicraft Council, a small department under the Swedish Ministry of Culture, and asked to curate a modern handicraft exhibition. They wanted it to target a young audience and to be “different”. I said sure, lets start by creating a soundtrack and a music video, that’s quite different for a handicraft exhibition.

What made you incorporate voguing in the context of handicrafts?

– Dancing is a big part of my life and I had wanted to do something with voguing ever since I saw Anna Ninja win the Streetstar competition in 2011. She was the first European to become a member of the House of Ninja in NY and I was so inspired to see that we for the first time, had Swedish voguers like her and Fredrik Milan, who had made it to that kind of level. Voguing includes a lot of hand performance and arm control,  and handicraft –  well it’s all about the hands! Tactile intelligence, perfect lines, rhythm, personal expression…To me the connection was perfect – cool and humorous, unexpected yet obvious/natural. Hopefully other people think so too.

Anything that you think needs to be mentioned?

– The beats in the song are made out of sampled handicraft sounds that we recorded at a famous Wood crafter’s house named Jögge Sundqvist in Umeå, north Sweden. The handicrafters that you see in the video are all real craftspeople, some of them are also exhibiting items in the exhibition.

test 18 copy
Photography: Aia Jüdes

Next Level Craft is an exhibition of various hand-made items currently shown at Västerbottens Museum in Umea until 21st September this year. If you’re in Umea, be sure to check it out. If you’re not, get a load of this sparkling and innovative music video/trailer.

Handicraft and Voguing from Sweden NEXT LEVEL CRAFT


Music video by Aia Jüdes for Swedish handicraft exhibition NEXT LEVEL CRAFT

Music: Elias Grind

Dancers: Anna “Ninja” Näsström, Fredrik Quiñones

Handicraft: Felix Wink, Ulf Wätte, Rosa Almedia, Anna Andersson, Koppens Kerstin

Cinematography: Aia Jüdes, Anders Hammar

Costume: Johanna Hofring

Hair&make up: Sanna Riley