Hygge and the art of low tech/high joy

In Denmark there is this concept/way of living called hygge (pronounced HYU-gah) that is hard to translate and trickier to describe.

Hygge is explained this way at visitdenmark.com

“Hygge is as Danish as pork roast and cold beer and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul. In essence, hygge means creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family – that’s hygge too. And let’s not forget the eating and drinking – preferably sitting around the table for hours on end discussing the big and small things in life. Perhaps the Danish idea of hygge explains why the Danes are often considered the happiest people in the world?”

Our collaborative has also struggled with explaining what we do exactly; is it art? is it social practice? and what is social practice anyway? is it performance art, just really slow and unscripted?  We think hygge is to blame.

Here’s another definition of the elusive term from mnn.com 

“The word is useful as a noun or a verb — “you can hygge by curling up on the sofa with a good book” — and as an adjective by converting it to “hyggeligt” (HYU-gah-lee). It generally has a social component, but there are wide-ranging interpretations across Denmark, allowing it to describe anything from a person or a building to an abstract ambience or sentiment.”

We bake pies for people and have meandering conversations about everything from xanthan gum to sod houses.  Is that considered art?  We collaborate with an elderly population to create sunflower seed packets and disperse them as gifts.  Are we creative placemakers or just working in the community on a quirky project?  We’ve also created tiny dioramas at TuckUnder Projects for folks to discover through ‘scopes’.  More interactive than sculptures or an installation, viewers were invited to change the ‘sets-ups’ or create their own.  If the assemblages are being continuously altered by visitors who is the artist?  Is it the last person who touched it, the person who created the first ‘set-up’, everyone, no one?

2.%22look again%22 @ TuckUnder Projects

look (again) residency

Over here at low tech/high joy headquarters we’ll keep asking questions but some of the answers may have something to do with hygge.


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