Stoffe im Raum
February 11 – April 10, 2021 – Sala Terrena of Universitätsgalerie Heiligenkreuzerhof, Vienna
Soft opening: Wednesday, February 10 from 2 pm

In her text "Stoffe im Raum" (1930) [Fabrics in Space], the textile artist and weave Otti Berger describes textiles from close up, with their innermost laws, as defined by the weave, colour combination, and variation of materials. Her demands for systematic research alongside the intuitive invention of "lively" textiles also comprise modernity’s demand for the functional and healthy provision of the whole population with the materials that meet our basic needs. A fabric must be "grasped," only when it is grasped can it be understood according to its most important quality: tactility.
Textile as an artistic medium can only be thought of in the interweaving of textiles with a cultural and social history, with the development of textile production processes in craft and industrial manufacture, with the global distribution of labor and resources.
This exhibition begins with small, textile pieces, from which the complex systems of the fabric, its materiality, the conditions of its manufacturing and the context of its use can be read. At the centre of the exhibition are sample pieces by artists from the Vienna School of Arts and Crafts (today the University of Applied Arts), the Vienna Workshop, Bauhaus, and the Russian Vkhutemas. From there, the exhibition draws connections to works of contemporary artists, whose central concerns are with textiles as a fundamentally political medium which questions the traditional concepts of "high" art, image, object, and authorship.
Precisely because physical work with textiles by nature refuses the speed of a larger, immaterial system, it always raises questions of economy and the value of materials. Hence, the exhibition displays an interest in viewing textiles close-up, which always also refers to larger systems through the programming thinking that is inherent to them.
The exhibition emerged out of the initiative of a group of students from the University of Applied Arts and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. It has been coordinated by Ulla Rossek (artist from Berlin / University of Applied Arts, Vienna), accompanied by Prof. Sabeth Buchmann (Berlin / Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna). We would like to thank the Art Collection and Archive of the University of Applied Arts Vienna for their cooperation.

Photos: Till Martin