Photography by Sara Danielsson

Artist Maria Johansson has been tinkering for 12 years to create the perfect 158 Objects

Born in the small village of Nordanå in the south of Sweden, Stockholm based artist Maria Johansson completed her MA in Ceramics and Glass at the Konstfack, University of Arts, Crafts and Design in 2009. Her studies were presented as an amalgamation between design and art which shines through in praxis. The current artist in residence at Iaspis, Maria has been drafting and crafting the perfect objects since 2006–up to date, there are 158 perfect objects.

“Collect, seek, dismantle, sculpt, design, construct, combine, integrate, archive and re-use. Twisting and turning reality around, investigating our views on function…”–collecting is done for the sake of collecting. Through this variety of acts and its product; that of a new object, Maria is both critical of, while similarly celebrating our material society. 

Object fourteen: folds up and folds down. Sold to a couple at Konstfack Christmas Market 2007.

Object one hundred fifty-six: rule and admonitions. Photography by Sara Danielsson

Her artistic expression is built on fascination that was born from the innovative people she grew up around. With a father who was an electrician and her mother who was a cook at an old age home a connection with her resourcefulness is quickly made. Coming from a different familial setting than her friends in university whose parents were often times academics, architects and graphic designers herstory moulds her artistic execution.

“I spent 12 years building ‘The collection of perfect objects’. As they did not exist I had to make them myself. In the ongoing art projects, I assume the role of an archivist, documenting the collection in various ways.”

158. Asked as to why there are 158 objects Maria explains that it simply turned out to be that number but that she will continue to create the perfect objects going forward. Though Maria has been creating this project for 12 years she does not experience feelings of lethargy and instead looks to each sculpture as a new challenge as the process of creating each has its intrinsic particularities. 158 objects that serve no functional purpose. Instead Maria’s thought process can be traced as follows: “I do not design function but thoughts about function, acquisitiveness and consumption.”

Object one hundred and forty-eight: ruined the measuring device.

Her organic workings began by simply making objects and numbering them and after some time a trend emerged, Maria realized that she was creating a collection. “Which made sense since almost all my relatives are all collectors of something. I call them the perfect Objects because for me they are just how I want them to be. It´s an interesting twist to collecting, instead of looking for new items [for] your collection, [you] make them yourself.”

In order to preserve her perfect objects Maria took on the role of the archivist and documents her work in a variety of ways from notes about purchases to photographic objects that show them at a particular time in their lives individually and as a collection. Continually she reflects on the years of work and the work yet to come, what has she created? What is she creating?

Her objects act as reminders of when designs were created to last instead of break, a time when the quality of a product is what mattered. “They are also reminders of the things people buy that are meant to serve a purpose and are functional but since they never got to be used, they are as unfunctional as my sculptures. A juicer for example that got used two times and then forgotten placed in the back of a cupboard. I think it´s time to start asking ourselves how we look upon the things we surround ourselves with.”

Object one hundred and ten: reluctantly interesting, was very careful

At present Maria is working on a photobook. She invited poets, writers and artists to interpret one of her objects respectively together with that object’s title. The project takes on a collaborative tone between Maria and editor/curator Sujy Lee, photographer Sara Danielsson and graphic designer Karin Rosenberg.

The older parts Maria Johansson sees as equal to the newly constructed. But they represent different things; what once was and what is present. The biggest challenge with the work is to create a whole where the pieces look credible together. It should look like they’ve always been together. Perhaps it also applies to the careful work of having the newly constructed life and the original life, to feel like they have always belonged together.

– Helena Hertov, Design Curator Rian Design museum.

Object one hundred and one: more in reverse, phew!
Object one hundred and three: intricate, unmanageable and generally hopeless
Photography by Maria Johansson

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