Textiles constitute an area in which socioeconomic codes, aspirations and desires unfold and are renegotiated. Together textiles write history and textile techniques provide us with models upon which to pin ideas and knowledge. The exhibition Textile Subtexts is part of a research project that takes an interest in divergent meanings of the textile, material culture and how it manifests itself in a work of art or in an artist’s practice. The project is curated by and a collaboration between Bella Rune, artist and Professor of Textiles at Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Craft and Design, Stockholm and Helena Selder, curator at Marabouparken Art Gallery.
Textile Subtexts takes its starting point in the “liberation” of textiles in the 1960s in Sweden. From here the investigation moves back and forward in time to pose questions on the role played by textiles in artistic practices and times. The moment of “liberation” is represented by, among others, Margareta Hallek, whose work is presented in a separate gallery, where we can follow the artist’s playful and experimental practice from the 1960s to the 1990s.
The exhibition brings together Swedish artists from several generations, including Hannah Ryggen (b. 1894) to Josefin Gäfvert (b. 1988), whose works activate various layers of the “textile subtext.” Some of these subtexts are visualised in the exhibition’s thematic “balls of yarn,” which are unravelled to create associations between artistic practices and works, presented in an exhibition architecture comprising walls constructed of safety and sports nets, dividing the space, exposing the reverse of the works, separating and connecting them.
From the “main ball of yarn” extends the red thread that weaves itself around an expanded textile language. The Latin word “texere” means to join, intertwine, in regard to both text and textile. Textile writing is a global, “silent,” physical, spatial and social knowledge, with which we experience, interpret and assimilate materials, textile surfaces and abstract pattern images from different ages and cultures. Of particular relevance is “the history of women’s art ball of yarn.” It was largely female practitioners who, despite limited room for manoeuvre, not only renewed textiles in the 20th century, but also politicised and introduced textiles as an artistic material. Textiles’ connection to decorative art and everyday, domestic, “low” materials and techniques such as knitting, tapestry, embroidery and appliqué (a forerunner of collage and assemblage) was exploited as a component of feminist critique and politics.
The different themes of the exhibition overlap one another. The textile narrative in the form of abstractions and patterns gets tangled up with textiles as commodity, software and system builder. Textiles’ plasticity and need for support are exploited in new sculptural expressions and performances while also providing them with an emotional register—all of this becomes meaningful as an act of resistance in a more anti-hierarchical, playful and ambiguous art world from the 1960s until today.
participating artists:Maria Adlercreutz, Elsa Agélii, Zandra Ahl, Olle Baertling, Helene llgren, Ann Böttcher, “Moki” Cherry, Shabnam Faraee, Johanna Friedman, Josefin Gäfvert, Margareta Hallek, Leif Holmstrand, Charlotte Johannesson, Anna Nordström, Paola Torres Núñez del Prado, Veronica Nygren, Kaisa Melanton, Claes Oldenburg, Lennart Rodhe, Hannah Ryggen, Pia Sandström, Rickard Sollman, Elin Strand & the New Beauty Council, Bella Rune, Jennie Sundén & Åsa Norberg
SE-172 66 Sundbyberg