…These delicate textiles have their basis in viruses whose structural diagrams Laura Splan translated into embroidery code by means of a computer program. Disturbingly beautiful, the Doilies strikingly resemble the lace doilies that were a staple of 19th century middle-class interior decoration, though they are the product of an embroidery machine. Thus viewers usually realize only when taking another look at the title that these wonderfully harmonious and symmetric forms are, in some cases, indeed, life-threatening pathogens. A fascination with aesthetic forms found in nature was already evident in the extensive collections of natural items kept in the art chambers and curiosity cabinets of the late Renaissance and the Baroque period. ln successive eras the notion of "nature as artist" would only gain in importance (be it as objet trouvé, in theories of photography and photographs, or in contemporary art practices seeking to introduce non-human protagonists into the context of art}. Yet the unsettling effect of the Dollies arises mainly from the presentation of the viruses in the seemingly innocuous guise of lacework with its middle-class connotations and from the discrepancy between the aesthetic appearance of the viruses and the awareness of their role as pathogens…
Lea Heim, essay in exhibition catalog for Handarbeit: Material und Symbolik
Handarbeit: Material und Symbolik
(Manual Work: Material and Symbolism)
Historical motif, subversive strategy and staged materiality - the many manifestations of manual work in art are the subject of this exhibition. In the form of a pointed dialogue between historical and current positions, it spans an associative arc from the 19th century to the present. Whether knitting fishermen's wives in the dunes or net menders at the harbor - handicrafts have long played an important role in life on the coast. With industrialization, manual labor lost its original function of earning a living and at the same time was able to establish itself as a middle-class leisure activity. Needle and thread work was liberated from its reputation as an uplifting female occupation in the 1970s and 1980s by artists such as Rosemarie Trockel and Alighiero e Boetti, who created subversive and political works. In contemporary art, too, manual work is experiencing a sustained renaissance. The transgression of social and art-historical patterns of order plays a major role. Abstract or representational, art or craft.
Alighiero e Boetti, David Artz, Birgit Dieker, Otto Heinrich Engel, Julius Exner, Jochen Flinzer, Edgar Honetschläger, Viggo Johansen, Isa Melsheimer, Abigail O'Brien and Mary A. Kelly, Wilhelm Peters, Judith Samen, Yinka Shonibare, Laura Splan, Annette Streyl, and Rosemarie Trockel.