post-title HANDMADE BY | Group exhibition | Galerie Deschler | 13.01.–18.03.2017

HANDMADE BY | Group exhibition | Galerie Deschler | 13.01.–18.03.2017

HANDMADE BY | Group exhibition | Galerie Deschler | 13.01.–18.03.2017

HANDMADE BY | Group exhibition | Galerie Deschler | 13.01.–18.03.2017

until 18.03. | #0980ARTatBerlin | Galerie Deschler shows from 13th January 2017 in context of the Berlin Fashion Week 2017 an exhibition with different artists who worked with fabrics.

With works by: Faig Ahmed, Margret Eicher, Seet van Hout, Victoria Martini, Yukiko Terada and Patricia Waller.

In the context of the Berlin Fashion Week 2017, the Galerie Deschler is
presenting an exhibition of various artists whose work involves fabrics. In
presenting various international positions of textile art side by side in their
commonalities and differences, it is hoped that a new light can be shed on
the individual approaches and their strategies of creating meaning through
art, as well as the way they navigate the territory of differing cultural contexts
and traditions.

Textiles almost always have a direct connection to the human body, who is
clothed in fabrics for most of his life, with only brief exceptions, and whose
skin is in constant contact with textiles. As a second skin to humans, fabrics
have always played a large role in the history of culture and taken on a host
of associations, whether in the most traditional customs or in the most abstract
flights of fancy in in high fashion. Every one of us shares the haptic
experience of this intimate connection of fabrics with the body, which in turn
has always prevented textiles to be wholly subsumed under conceptual abstractions.

The techniques employed, however, whether weaving, embroidery, sewing
or crochet work, still to this very day are tainted by the somewhat derogatory
classification as “mere” handicraft. On the one hand this is an expression of
existing social structures and hierarchies of power between different social
classes, as well as between the genders. On the other hand it certainly is
also owed to the fact that the production process is time-consuming and
laborious, and often based on monotonous repetition. In employing these
techniques in the context of “high art”, the artists in this exhibition always
already and quite deliberately play with different levels of the construction of
meaning. On the one hand the slow and laborious nature of theses of the
production process stands in opposition to still dominant demands for
efficiency and economy. On the other hand the handmade, particularly in
the realm of the arts and crafts and in conjunction with a growing demand
for “deceleration,” has these days attained an exalted status that was quite
unthinkable before the industrial revolution and its introduction of automatization
in production. In consciously setting it apart from mass production by
virtue of being handmade and exhibiting its characteristic small and individualizing
deviations, it has entered the realm of luxury consumption and
status: hand-woven carpets are far more expensive than those that are
machine-woven. This, however, can in turn create a problem when transposed
to the realm of art. For here the element of competence in the craft
has experienced a strong devaluation in favor of the purely conceptual since
the beginning of modernism, to the degree that competence in the craft is
often frowned upon as competence in nothing but the craft, and suspected
of tainting, in its seductive beauty, the pristine purity of the conceptual
component of a work of art. This blurring of the line between art and the
crafts thus not only questions one of the central tenets of contemporary art,
but also raises uncomfortable questions concerning the real but ideologically
oftentimes unacknowledged intertwining of art and commerce.

The artists shown in this exhibition all, in their very own respective ways,
use the medium of textile handicraft in a subversive fashion. The traditional
medium is reinterpreted in surprising ways. Thus managing to introduce, like
with a Trojan horse, controversial topics in the deceptive guise of harmlessness.

Faig Ahmed, originally from Azerbaijan, experiments with the materials and
colors of his native country’s tradition of carpet weaving, as well as with
Indian embroidery. In transplanting carpet weaving into the context of contemporary
art, however, as well as in including unexpected and incongruent
visual elements into his works, he effects a clear and oftentimes unsettling
break with the tradition he is referencing. On some level his works could be
read as symbols of the contradictions and conflicts between established
local traditions and Western modernity superimposed onto it by globalization,
where Western cultural elements are often reduced to their most
superficial and stereotypical features. Conversely these works can also
point to how these traditions are frequently appropriated by the West in just
as much a superficial manner, when they are eclectically taken out of their
original context and turned into mere lifestyle accessories.

In her large-format tapestries the German artist Margret Eicher combines
the original baroque form with well-known images culled from the mass
media of today’s information society. The tapestry “The Five Virtues” shown
in this exhibition is based on the photo shoot of five actresses (Teri Hatcher,
Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria Parker, Dana Delany) shown
in clichéd postures and published in various print media: fashionable outfits
emphasizing femininity, countered by the tools of the busy housewife.
Feather duster, vacuum cleaner, baking plate and rubber gloves in fact
recall the fixed attributes of saints in the history of Christian art. In a sumptuous
courtly ambience they are flanked by two male figures in the poses of
baroque noblemen. These are taken from the original tapestry image, but
their heads have been replaced by those of two male pin-up models, also
shown in the inserts of the bordure as housewife boy-toy fantasies. Societal
façade and erotic fantasy function as mutual commentary. The title “The
Five Virtues” was chosen in reference to titles of classical painting with their
self-image as philosophical commentary. The reduction of originally seven
virtues to five is owed to the “Big 5” personality traits (extraversion, openness
to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness, low neuroticism)
that, according to current claims of behavioral psychology, are advantageous
for success in society and career.

The works of Dutch artist Seet van Hout quite literally get out of line and
are striking in their delicate aesthetics and their open forms. Van Hout often
installs her works directly in the space by attaching threads and fabrics on
walls and the floor and thus creating three-dimensional drawings in space
as poetic and airy installations. The title of her work shown here, “Memory
Lace,” already points to the enormous associative capability of the human
imagination, ceaselessly creating networks of subtle connections between
the most varied memory images and weaving complex nexuses from these.

In her series “Of the Fading of Images” the artist Victoria Martini, born in
Brussels, uses canvases as the ground for subtle embroidery, which in its
very reduced, “faded” color scheme visually approaches classical reliefs.
The medium of embroidery allows her to depict breaks in a way that goes
almost unnoticed, for the lovely nature of the handicraft only belatedly
reveals the fact that her subject matter is the destruction of human living
spaces through natural catastrophes. Whether this can be read as a commentary
on the fact that we so often chose to ignore or repress the effects
of humanly cause climate change and ensuing natural catastrophes and
destruction, remains up to the viewer.

The Berlin-based Japanese artist Yukiko Terada creates permeable and
multilayered objects from textiles, exploring metamorphoses, transformations
and the cycle between growth and destruction. She thus illustrates in a
compelling fashion the manifold and fluid interactions taking place between
man and his natural and cultural environment. In this she clearly positions
herself in the cultural tradition of her native Japan, but gives these themes a
very unique and personal spin. For this exhibition she has created a cycle of
seasons, again foregrounding the element of change and transmutation
from one form to another.

Santiago de Chile-born German artist Patricia Waller has been working
with the medium of crochet work ever since art school. Highly charged
situations are shown in deceptive harmlessness and succeed in surprising
established habits of perception. The sheer disproportion between technique
and subject matter in Waller’s works is simply captivating, they convey
elements of art and reality, past and present, idyll and comfort. The coziness
of her technique can only briefly delude us with regard to the seriousness
of the subject matter: the fun quickly turns to discomfort, and thereby
often provokes incredulous bursts of laughter. Patricia Waller, whose work
has last month received enthusiastic reception in Shanghai, curated this

Vernissage: Friday, 13th January 2017, 7 to 9 p.m.

Exhibition period: Friday, 13th January 2017 to Saturday, 18th March 2017

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Image caption: via Galerie Deschler, Margret Eicher, Die Fünf Tugenden

HANDMADE BY Group exhibition – Galerie Deschler – Kunst in Berlin ART at Berlin


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