Conceived by partner and co-founder of Danish practice Norm Architects, Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, and co-founder and creative director of Kinfolk, Nathan Williams, CLOSE CONTACT is a conceptual project that brings a series of bespoke leather spheres, crafted by Danish brand Sørensen Leather, and the human body together in a tactile dialogue of textures, shapes and hues. The project was launched at the Kinfolk Gallery in Copenhagen via an exhibition that ended at the end of October 2017, and is comprised of ten large-scale, limited edition artworks and 100 portfolios of smaller prints of photographs taken by Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen.
The sphere is a truly unique solid both macro- and microscopically in that it is instrumental in the workings of both the planetary systems our universe is filled with, and the atoms it is built from. By being a representation of both the particles that our cellular molecules are made of, and the celestial entities our lives revolve around—literally in the case of the sun—the sphere has acquired a symbolic valence that goes beyond its scientific importance.
In fact, spheres and their two-dimensional representations, circles, have always been prevalent in our attempts to represent and understand the world around us, from the ancient pagan symbol of Mother Earth to the contemporary five-ringed symbol of the Olympic Games. Going back to Plato, humans were said to have originated from spherical entities, men descending from the sun, women from the earth and the third sex from the moon. While the spiritual significance of the sphere may have lessened since the heydays of Greek mythology, even today children draw circles to depict both the sun and the human face, a ring is the ultimate symbol of commitment, and is there a more hallowed spherical form than the womb that sheltered us at the beginning of our existence?
Under this light, the choice of the sphere as a dialectical counterpart of the human figure makes perfect sense, whereas the choice of leather requires no explanation. Peacefully resting against the naked flesh in Close Contact’s photographic series, the leather spheres both complement and antagonize the human bodies. Quite distinct and yet so much alike, they both demand to be touched, stroked or caressed in equal measure, seen in the sphere's perfectly round circumference snugly enfolded by the supple curvatures of the torsos, the softly glowing leather reflecting the sensuous warmth of skin, and the tactile richness of suede bringing out with the lean smoothness of flesh. Coupled with an earthy palette of black walnut, pecan brown, cream and light grey, as well as choice of larger and smaller sizes, the bespoke spheres perfectly converse with the variety of skin colours and body types in Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen’s sculptural photographs.