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“The Textile Room”

MUSEUM BELLERIVE
Höschgasse 3
October 23–February 21

Pierrette Bloch, Maille de crin (Horsehair Mesh), 1983–84, horsehair, 11 x 12’.

Ever since Ariadne’s thread lead Theseus through the labyrinth of the Minotaur, textiles have traversed and defined our world. Nevertheless, this standout exhibition is not charging through any open doors. Is that why this small space has been outfitted with an overabundance of works, as if to overcompensate—from the embroidery of Sophie Taeuber-Arp to the knotted sisal, hemp, and cotton pieces of Françoise Grossen? There remains little space for immersion or for information on the fifty-eight artists.

The only piece that enjoys a suitable location is Ruth Issler’s Tarnkappe (Magic Hood), 1981, made of handwoven wool and sisal. It sways uncannily in the museum’s courtyard, buffeted by wind and weather, like a wasp’s nest hanging in a tree. And what a feast for the senses it would have been to experience the monumental Éléments textiles dans l’espace (Textile Elements in Space), 1970–72, by Elsi Giauque in its intended context, rather than in front of the fireplace in the lobby here. With Giauque’s creative charisma, the talented student of Taeuber-Arp and later lecturer in textile design at the Zurich University of the Arts rightly forms the epicenter of this exhibition.

Works by Giauque’s students—Käthi Wenger, Verena Voiret, and Katharina della Chiesa—are discoveries here, and it is not only Verena Sieber-Fuchs’s bottle-cap cushion Rondom, 1995, or Pierrette Bloch’s knotted and knitted Maille de crin (Horsehair Mesh), 1983–84, that surprise and delight visitors to such an extent that they won’t want to miss this parade of the tangled, the woven, and the crocheted.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.

Max Glauner