Jennifer Ekstrand

Student Artist-in-Residence 2008-09
In this Section

Artist Statement





The work I've created for the Bud and Betty Micheels Artist-in-Residence Grant investigates the removal of function in furniture products and instruction manuals of the world's largest furniture manufacturer, IKEA. Language, sequin and holographic contact paper are also reassigned function in each sculptural structure. I additionally explore the process of deconstruction and reconstruction with modular drawings and assembled structures. I create objects holding a visually strong presence in the architectural space by replicating forms and repeating images of the architecture. By choosing colors and reflective elements attention is called to these sculptural objects.

Through the use of IKEA products, I am taking advantage of an already established and successful aesthetic. My choice of IKEA furnishings is predicated on the assumption that those objects hold an inherent beauty. Sequins and holographic contact paper have a shimmering quality, catching the eye of the viewer and bringing them into the space. Products are chosen for their formal characteristics such as color, size and shape, as well as both visual and physical weight. Each assembled structure balances through the use of weight; each piece that finds itself on the verge of tipping is equalized by a counter weight. This creates a physical and visual tension.

I've chosen to remove each element from its original function through the process of deconstruction and reconstruction. Shelves and tables no longer serve to passively hold household objects. Through the practice of deconstructing each IKEA product, each piece becomes a block of color and shape that reacts with the architectural space, creating a visual representation of buildings, scaffolding, and billboards. The loss and consequent reassigning of function is carried throughout the entire body of work; instruction manuals no longer walk the consumer through a step-by-step process of assembly. IKEA instructions now serve as modular sections of a technical blueprint for a type of living space. Sequin drawings contained in IKEA frames move away from a more cliché decorative element and toward an important object within the structure to create a visual connection point. Language is altered to no longer be predictable or immediately understood in terms of word definitions. Words are chosen not for their meaning, but rather for their phonetic quality, the viewer looks past the literal meaning of the words to find the underlying message. In this way, language is reassigned a role. By abstracting the language and taking advantage of its arbitrary nature a new meaning is evoked that is not naturally present in the written text thus our understanding of language is re-interpreted.