The creators of Human Trace tableware take a look at what happens at the factory behind the scenes: how delicate and beautiful pieces are manufactured and at the people who design them. This autumn, the People from the Porcelain Factory exhibition will be on display in Prague & Pilsen.
Human Trace porcelain tableware was created on the factory production line. It was made by factory workers wearing gloves whose fingertips were dipped in cobalt. The traces of their touch remain almost invisible until the porcelain is fired when almost miraculously they appear on the porcelain - in a deep, dark blue pattern. This way, the ‘human factor' in the 'inhuman' production process remains visible – and is extraordinary. Ewa Klekot, the curator of the exhibition, explains:
Smooth, shiny porcelain is associated with purity and perfection. When your fingers or lips leave prints on a cup, we automatically want to wipe it off, remove it, restore the porcelain to its excellence and hide the evidence of its contact with the imperfect human form. We do not want to know by whom and how many the cup was touched before us.
The tableware was manufactured as a part of the People from the Porcelain Factory Project, which was carried out in one of the oldest ceramic factories in Poland. The factory in Ćmielów, established in 1790, has been producing fine porcelain since 1838 and is currently owned by Polskie Fabryki Porcelany Ćmielów i Chodzież S.A.
The People from the Porcelain Factory will be presented at the Designblok festival in Prague in October (26th - 30th October 2017) as well as at the Plzen Design Week in November (13th - 19th November).
In Prague and Pilsen, photos of the factory workers and their work will be on display alongside their plates, cups and vases. They will allow viewers to look at the porcelain in a different light: not only as desirable objects or symbols of status but also as stories about artistry, craftsmanship and hard work. Arkadiusz Szwed, curator of the exhibition, explains:
The project shows just how important people are in a factory. The porcelain the factory produces is a product of someone’s work and human touch is a part of the production process. Through the traces of cobalt, I wanted to show the work of all the people behing the scenes who are part of the process and to honour them.
The main objective of the project is to contribute to a critical analysis of the social construction of value systems applied to diverse human and non-human work. It will also add to the debate on the relationships of human vs technology. Porcelain items tend to be treated either as collectables or as design pieces, appreciated mostly for their aesthetic qualities. Relatively little attention is paid to the manufacturing process. Recognising the roles of all types of knowledge and skills involved in porcelain manufacturing can contribute to a better understanding of all the 'actors' taking part in the process of its production and encourage users to reflect on the finished products.
The exhibition in Prague is organised by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the exhibition in Pilsen is co-organised by the Institute.
Source: own materials; compiled by MK, 12 Oct 2017; translated by NR
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