Advertisement

Entangled: Threads and Making

Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK

Any notion that ‘Entangled: Threads & Making’ might take a delicate, romantic view of such ladylike pastimes as embroidery and weaving is put paid to by a ferocious opening corridor. The exhibition commences with a procession of works by Geta Brătescu and Louise Bourgeois. Opposite Bourgeois’s spiderweb quilt and embroidered traps is Brătescu’s Bound Fan (2002) which, in its quietude, is somehow more sinister. For so simple a gesture, there’s something horrifying about this act of binding, and it’s an activity that reappears in works by Phyllida Barlow, Sonia Gomes and Judith Scott. To bind is to constrain, to refuse potential, to announce control, to reject growth: here, the fan is held tight shut, its slim leg-like struts unable to open, its pretty skirts concealed. And all done with this little wisp of cord. 

2017-01-27114563.jpg

‘Entangled: Threads & Making’, 2017, installation view, Turner Contemporary, Margate. Background: Anna Ray, Margate Knot, 2016; foreground: Joana Vasconcelos, Eboli, 2013. Courtesy: Turner Contemporary, Margate; photograph: Stephen White

‘Entangled: Threads & Making’, 2017, installation view, Turner Contemporary, Margate. Background: Anna Ray, Margate Knot, 2016; foreground: Joana Vasconcelos, Eboli, 2013. Courtesy: Turner Contemporary, Margate; photograph: Stephen White

Further along, we meet Kate MccGwire’s White Lies (2015): toothy creature-feature constructions made with pigeon quills pushed through embroidered doilies. These avian vagina dentata have apparently had a deflatory effect on Maria Roosen’s nearby After David 2 (2015), a stool upholstered in a limp corona of knitted pink phalluses. These ladies with needles? Don’t mess with them.

Starting fierce allows for the inclusion of darker material in a show destined for a broad audience. In general, the trajectory from this point is a slow movement upward toward the light. A feel-good ending comes courtesy of Annette Messager’s featherlight The Dancing Tutu (2012) – a suspended bundle of tulle dancing on the breeze of a fan – and Laura Ford’s charmingly anxious child-sized penguins (or, perhaps, anxiously penguin-suited children). En route, however, there are horrors, drama and delicacy.

2017-01-27114640-1.jpg

‘Entangled: Threads & Making’, 2017, installation view, Turner Contemporary, Margate. Foreground: Louise Bourgeois, HAND, 2001; background: Hannah Ryggen, 6th Oktober, 1942, 1943. Courtesy: Turner Contemporary, Margate; photograph: Stephen White

‘Entangled: Threads & Making’, 2017, installation view, Turner Contemporary, Margate. Foreground: Louise Bourgeois, HAND, 2001; background: Hannah Ryggen, 6th Oktober, 1942, 1943. Courtesy: Turner Contemporary, Margate; photograph: Stephen White

The first large gallery is loosely themed around weaving, with pride of place given to Hanna Ryggen’s extraordinary 6. oktober 1942 (1943). Knotted from naturally dyed fibres, Ryggen’s large tapestry mixes myth, symbolism and autobiography with historical events that took place in Norway during World War II, among them the Nazis’ assassination of theatre director Henry Gleditsch. It’s a powerful and explicitly creative response to an act of barbarism aimed at quashing dissenting voices in the artistic community: not much else here can compete with it on those terms. A work by Ryggen’s contemporary Annie Albers – a geometrical composition of oblongs and stripes – seems a mere formal pronouncement by comparison. A large tapestry by Kiki Smith (Sky, 2012) of a naked woman floating in a starry sky above ice-capped mountains may share some of Ryggen’s narrative qualities, but wouldn’t look out of place in a new-age emporium.

phyllida-barlow.jpg

Phyllida Barlow, Untitled: broken shelf, 2015, timber, plywood, steel, fabric, PVA, cement, tape, plaster, 1.2 x 3 x 1.1 m. Courtesy: the artist and Hauser & Wirth; photograph: Alex Delfanne

Phyllida Barlow, Untitled: broken shelf, 2015, timber, plywood, steel, fabric, PVA, cement, tape, plaster, 1.2 x 3 x 1.1 m. Courtesy: the artist and Hauser & Wirth; photograph: Alex Delfanne

There’s a lovely face-off between two suspended works in the next, light-filled space. Phyllida Barlow’s Untitled: Brokenshelf (2015) is an outsized witches besom, levitating despite the plaster, steel and cement sticking to its brightly wrapped sticks; Karla Black’s What To Ask of Others (2011) is a gauzy, weightless (gosh, how feminine) swag of polythene, pink with chalk dust.

karla-black-what-to-ask-of-others.jpg

Karla Black, What To Ask Of Others, 2011, polythene, chalk dust, thread, 140 x 300 x 30 cm. Courtesy: the artist, Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne; photograph: © Dario Lasa

Karla Black, What To Ask Of Others, 2011, polythene, chalk dust, thread, 140 x 300 x 30 cm. Courtesy: the artist, Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne; photograph: © Dario Lasa

Similarly ethereal are Christiane Löhr’s fragile structures – arcs, yurts and pagodas bent from strands of grass and a column knotted from horsehair. Löhr’s works occupy a sphere of making that ‘Entangled’ embraces quite unequivocally: craft is presented here – as per Bauhaus philosophy – on equal footing with art: specifically those practices that are awake to the possibilities of hand production (and which, of late, have drawn heartily on craft traditions including tapestry, embroidery and ceramics). This, today, is a more politically audacious move than the decision to dedicate the show entirely to female artists. But, given that it opened a week after women all over the world took up their needles and knitted pink pussy hats as an act of protest, you can’t fault the timing.

Main image: Paola Anziché, Natural Fibers, 2016, knitted natural fibre (32 works). Courtesy the artist; photograph: Sebastiano Pellion di Persanots

Hettie Judah is a writer based in London.

Issue 186

First published in Issue 186

April 2017
Advertisement

Most Read

Criticism of the show at the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest comes alongside a nationalist reshaping of the...
A retrospective at Munich's Museum Brandhorst charts the artist's career from the 1980s to the present, from 'fem-trash...
At the National Theatre of Wales, a performance alive with wild, tactile descriptions compels comparison between the...
There are perils in deploying bigotry to score political points, but meanings also shift from West to East
‘It’s ridiculous. It’s Picasso’: social media platform to review nudity policy after blocking Montreal Museum of Fine...
Poland’s feminist ‘Bison Ladies’ storm the Japanese artist’s Warsaw exhibition in solidarity with longtime model Kaori’...
An art historian and leading Leonardo expert has cast doubt on the painting’s attribution
How will the Black Panther writer, known for his landmark critical assessments of race, take on the quintessential...
The dissident artist has posted a series of videos on Instagram documenting diggers demolishing his studio in the...
In further news: artists for Planned Parenthood; US court rules on Nazi-looted Cranachs; Munich’s Haus der Kunst...
A mother’s death, a father’s disinterest: Jean Frémon’s semi-factual biography of the artist captures a life beyond...
Jostling with its loud festival neighbours, the UK’s best attended annual visual art festival conducts a polyphonic...
It’s not clear who destroyed the project – part of the Liverpool Biennial – which names those who have died trying to...
Dating from 1949 to the early 1960s, the works which grace the stately home feel comfortable in the ostentatious pomp...
The disconnect between public museum programming and private hire couldn’t be starker – it’s time for the arts to...
In further news: Angela Gulbenkian sued over Kusama pumpkin; and Pussy Riot re-arrested immediately after release from...
With Art Week in town, a guide to the best exhibitions to see, from sonic surveillance to Ronnie van Hout’s showdown...
Moving between figuration and abstraction, the New York-based painter and teacher made work about in-between spaces and...
Trump’s State Department is more than 3 months late in announcing its national pavilion – testament to the chaos...
The continued dominance of UK-US writers makes a mockery of the Man Booker’s ‘global outlook’
The fashion photographer has been accused on Twitter of ripping off another artist – with both represented by the same...
Katharina Cibulka has stitched ‘As long as the art market is a boys’ club, I will be a feminist,’ across her alma mater...
The punk artists’s invasion of the pitch during the Croatia vs. France match reminded us what Russia’s new ‘normality’...
In further news: Brexit voters avoid arts; New York libraries’s culture pass unlocks museums; Grayson Perry-backed...
If artificial intelligence were ever to achieve sentience, could it feasibly produce art? (And would it be good?)
Nods to the game in World Cup celebrations show how dance has gone viral – but unwittingly instrumentalized for...
‘What is being exhibited at Manifesta, above all, is Palermo itself’
With the 12th edition of the itinerant European biennial opening in Palermo, what do local artists, curators and...
The curators seem set to ask, ‘how civilized is the world’s current state of affairs?’

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018