Tables & Borders

October 12 -  Novembe 1, 2006
Museum of Applied Art, Belgrade

Tilleke Schwarz (Netherlands)
Isolde Venrooy (Netherlands)
Grazyna Brylewska (Poland)
Snezana Skoko (Serbia)

TABLES & BORDERS – exhibition brings together four artists with different backgrounds. Not only do they come from different generations, but also their home countries represent very different Europe both due to their location and their political history. These artists are united by their background in the field of textile art, but the techniques and materials they use stretch out from the very traditional end of textile art and craft, all the way to crossing borders of various art disciplines (performance, installation, collage). The subject that actually unites them is in the concept of their works: a critical observation of everyday phenomenon in contemporary society and unravelling and analysing textile (art) traditions and contemporary textile (art) practises

Tilleke Schwarz

Tilleke Schwarz (Netherlands) works in a traditional textile technique with contemporary themes and methods. She embroiders her diary-like pieces with almost manic passion, letting her stream of consciousness flow on the fabric. Personal everyday incidents intertwine with topical headlines from newspapers and discerning perceptions of contemporary environment. Schwarz’s works resemble the “scribble drawings” by young contemporary artists. The significant difference is in the time taken for producing the works. Schwarz’s technique is slow and creates a contradiction with the visual appearance of her pieces. On the other hand slowness is essential for the conceptual contents of her work. Schwarz criticizes the hectic tempo, the overflow of information and the sovereignty computer technology in contemporary society.

Isolde Venrooy

Isolde Venrooy’s (Netherlands) works deal with the flow of information and the constant global traffic of people and commercial goods. Implications to cultural and geopolitical history are present together with a critical view over contemporary globalized society. Her most common materials are newspapers and other printed publications as well as cardboard packing boxes for commercial goods. Venrooy utilizes the symbols and signs on these printed materials. In her recent works she blue-pencils newspaper columns with acrylic paint or creates alphabets from pulverized newspaper pulp. She questions the behind-the-scenes motives of communication by covering, revising and manipulating the printed “truth”, and invites us to read between the lines. In her works simple and definite symbols as letters literally carry other texts and meanings inside the recycled newspaper material.

Grazyna Brylewska

Grazyna Brylewska’s (Poland) critical comments on contemporary society are more subtle. In her printed self-portrait “wallpapers” a solemn faced woman blankly stares at the spectator. Repetition of the image makes the individuality of a human being fade into a grey, anonymous, joyless mass. These humans fill their daily duties as parts of the social machinery.  Brylewska prints her self-portraits on cotton draperies. The fabric parallels to human skin, separating the inner and outer self. Brylewska’s rose-patterned works are different. They are light and decorative by appearance, but we know roses always have thorns. The artist wants these works to act as a counterbalance to her generation’s disappointment over the development of the society. With gentle, but sharp irony she offers the spectator an ultra-rosy hideaway from the everyday reality.

Snezana Skoko

Snežana Skoko (Serbia) uses the social nature of textile tradition as a framework for her performance. Housewives’ sewing circles together with other common every-day skills have provided a vital share in most families’ economies throughout times - until recent decades. In Skoko’s sewing circle coffee drinking, fortune telling and idle gossiping has taken over the social scene of the common survival strategy. Skoko uses this symbolic scenery to question the state and position of textile art in the contemporary art field. In “Destiny of textile art / demitasse” she criticizes art manifestations, such as annual exhibitions and biennials, for fabricating art and serving only as a setting for appraisal of status, and hunting for prizes.  Her coffee table with banal future telling calls for deeper meanings in textile art, and concepts that are more up-to-date (topical) and less trite.

Together these four artists prove the potentiality of expression there is in textile art. Many topical subjects of contemporary art gain from materials or techniques which themselves carry a strong significance. Textiles as an approach to art are capable to bear implications which appeal to our self-concept or personal and shared memories. The familiar everyday characteristics of textile together with values traditionally connected to these materials, and various allusions for example to domestic work or cultural traditions automatically give these artworks an additional conceptual level, which would be difficult to achieve by using other materials and techniques.

Silja Puranen
Artist and art curator

The exhibition is organized by „Punctum for Art Experiment“, Belgrade in cooperation with Museum of Applied Art, Belgrade. Our intention is to support development and improvement of Contemporary Textile Art Scene.

The exhibition is supported by:
Secretariat for Culture of The Belgrade City Assembly
Ministry of Culture, Republic of Serbia
Mondriaan Stichting, Amsterdam

Programme coordinator:
Milica Cukiæ MA, Senior Curator, Head of Department of Arts, Department of Public Relations