HOW TO COOK A SOUVENIR
Artist Peter Johansson comes from the village of Sälen in northern Dalarna. He grew up steeped in Dala culture and commerce; his father was a decorative painter and his mother ran a waffle hut for tourists. In response to the often superficial Dala symbols, in a series of works, he challenged conventional expectations and demonstrated that safe, domestic symbols may camouflage something violent.
In “How to Cook a Souvenir (1992) , for example, he sliced a red-painted Dala horse and wrapped it in the typical styrofoam package found in a supermarket meat counter. Curator and critic Martin Henatsch has described Johansson’s Dala horse as “a supermarket Trojan horse”, observing that Johansson, ‘debunks the myth that traditionel craftwork only exists in remote forests. Within a supermarket environment, the cherished image of a little horse handmade by hobby artists on remote farms is undermined and the focus instead shifts to its industrial-style mass production. At the same time, the artist is comparing the wooden torso of the national symbol with meat that has been slaughtered for human consumption. The carving up of the torso can, in addition, be seen as a symbolic record, a deliberate demolition and liberation of a nationalism that is far too restrictive and inhibiting’.
Peter Johansson / Dala Horse / 1992
© SWEEDISH WOODEN TOYS / The Bard Graduate Center / 2014 / Amy F. Ogata and Susan Weber / New York and Yale University Press/ New Haven and London
EX LIBRIS ABC // ABC Collection 2018