Onkar Kular is Professor of Design Interventions at HDK Valand, Academy of Art & Design at the University of Gothenburg. His research is disseminated internationally through exhibitions, education and publications. In this lecture, Onkar will discuss the process and experience of co-directing the 2022 Luleå Art Biennial, ‘Hantverk & Konst’ (Craft & Art) alongside Christina Zetterlund. The Biennial was expanded to include crafts of many types, from everyday handicraft to Sami duodji and aimed to sustainably represent the richness of creative activity of Norrbotten and beyond. Shaped through listening and learning with Norrbotten’s history and creativity, the exhibitions wove together local perspectives with global questions emerging from ice and its relationship to the politics of the cold, craft as a socially sustainable activity and the circular histories of resource extraction.

Installation view of Luleå Biennial 2022, Luleå Konsthall Photo: Thomas Hämén

From 2008- 2015, Onkar led the postgraduate design programme Platform 13 at the Royal College of Art, London, an interdisciplinary platform that explored the role of design within political and economic systems, culture and society. His work is in the collection of the CNAP, France, and the Crafts Council, UK. He has guest curated exhibitions for The Citizens Archive of Pakistan, Karachi, and the Crafts Council, UK. In 2017 he was the artistic director of the first Gothenburg Design Festival, Open Week. From 2018-2021, Onkar developed the public usership model and residency programme Allmänningen (The Common Room) at the University of Gothenburg and together with Henric Benesch is the organiser of the practice-based platform The Right to design, which has the dual aim of understanding the historic and contemporary relationship between design and rights and further claiming ‘design’ itself as a special kind of right that is accessible beyond class background, gender, race, age and disability.

Onkar Kular Portrait Photo: Simon Eliasson