Åsa Jungnelius - the Artist
Åsa Jungnelius’ first major success was her degree project for the University of Arts, Crafts & Design in Stockholm in 2004, called “I like your hairstyle!” In the installation, she created a surrealist shopping scene with objects to covet. This included her now iconic oversized glass lipstick, as well as the “Vagina,” or “Snippan,” a Swedish word that was not broadly used at the time, and which Jungnelius helped to coin through her art. “‘Snippan’ was outside of the shop, a subject looking in through glass, and seeing itself and its attributes in a mirror,” says Jungnelius. “I’ve always wanted to create overall spatial experiences and to search for new perspectives. Based on that, I’ve occasionally developed miniatures that are available for people’s interiors.”
Åsa Jungnelius was born and raised in Fisksätra in Saltsjöbaden, outside of Stockholm. She lives and works in Stockholm and in Månsamåla outside of Åfors, where she previously shared the glassworks with Ulrica Hydman Vallien, her mentor and a source of inspiration. She has been tied to Kosta Boda since 2007.
Jungnelius is herself a skilled glassblower, but has never considered her art a handicraft. From the beginning, glass has been central to her experimentation with different materials in sculptures and installations. Jungnelius describes this herself as exploring the physical and metaphysical dimensions with her own material vocabulary. Her work makes a strong, at times obtrusively cute, and sometimes aggressively feminine impression. She was a pioneer of a new wave of younger feminist artists and craftspeople. In her artwork, she explores the symbolism of empty spaces, including maternal and sexual capacities. “Snippan” is present as a basic shape, accompanied by related mussels and shells.
From the start, in her creativity, Åsa Jungnelius has crossed the boundaries between art, craftsmanship, design and function, always beginning from different places. Jungnelius works with what she calls a “Residence in Nature,” where she “assigns” herself to different sites for extended periods of time, primarily in rural areas. She has sought the help of shamans to achieve a trance state and a deeper understanding of the place. Her experimentation is innovative when it comes to scales and older techniques.
Over the course of her career, Jungnelius has presented a long line of acclaimed exhibitions and site-specific public works. Most recently in 2021, she had a hot-air balloon rise up to the ceiling inside the old factory hall in Norrköping’s Bråvallaverken plant – a performance piece that launched Den Inre Världsutställningen, or the Inner World’s Fair. Since 2016, she has been working on her magnum opus – the brand-new Hagastaden subway station in Stockholm, which is planned to open toward the end of the 2020s. This total installation piece, called the Shell, is what Åsa describes as a tribute to hollow space and motherhood – a monumental feminine crystal cave. Here, people will walk through a kaleidoscopic transit of Venus that dissolves the experience of space. “The Shell is a temple to the power of empty space,” says Jungnelius.
“I am fascinated by the capacity of empty space. In many ways, ‘Snippan’ was noble and behaved itself, but then it became furious, an abstract monster vagina that came and took over. New characteristics are developed over time through art.”