Grazer Kunstverein announces Tradition exhibition

Grazer Kunstverein presents Tradition an exhibition on view 8 June–11 August 2013.

Woven patterned textile (fragment), Peru, circa 16th century, 9.5 x 6.3 cm, wool, cotton. Courtesy of Center for Social Research on Old Textiles.

Woven patterned textile (fragment), Peru, circa 16th century, 9.5 x 6.3 cm, wool, cotton. Courtesy of Center for Social Research on Old Textiles.

The Grazer Kunstverein continues its exploration within the realms of social abstraction, by presenting a selection of the elaborate collection of historic textiles assembled by Seth Siegelaub (b. 1941, US) for the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles. Currently comprised of around 650 pieces, the collection includes woven and printed textiles, embroideries and costume, ranging from fifth-century Coptic to Pre-Columbian Peruvian textiles, late medieval Asian and Islamic textiles, and Renaissance to eighteenth-century European silks and velvets. At Marres, a selection of 50 items will be shown alongside art works. The exhibition follows The Stuff That Matters at Raven Row (London) in 2012, which marked the collection’s first public presentation.

After running his own gallery in New York from 1964 to 1966, Seth Siegelaub played a pivotal role in the emergence of what became known as Conceptual art, which resulted in a series of 21 art exhibitions in groundbreaking formats he organized between 1968 and 1971. In 1972 he turned away from art and moved to Paris, where he published and collected leftist books on communication and culture, and founded the International Mass Media Research Center. In the early eighties he began collecting textiles and books about textiles and in 1986 founded the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles, which conducts research on the social history of hand-woven textiles. In 1997 he edited and published the Bibliographica Textilia Historiae, the first general bibliography on the history of textiles, which has since grown online to over 9,000 entries.

The intimate relationship between textiles and society can be seen, as Siegelaub explains, in the fundamental role textile played in the rise of the capitalist system and the industrial revolution. While the form and aesthetics of textiles in general are determined by the way they are manufactured, the selection of items in the exhibition at the Grazer Kunstverein are specifically based on the abstraction of forms in relation to function. Amongst the items on display will be Barkcloth (tapa) and headdresses from the Pacific region (especially Papua New Guinea) and Africa.

The textiles in the exhibition will be shown alongside the works of three artists, Willem Oorebeek, Lucy Skaer and Christopher Williams, whose conceptual work reflects on notions of craftsmanship, industrial (re)production, modernity, appropriation and representation.

An essay by artist and writer Doug Ashford is published for the occasion.

Curators: Krist Gruijthuijsen, director Grazer Kunstverein and Maxine Kopsa, director Kunstverein, Amsterdam

Tradition is the result of a collaboration between Marres, Centre for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht, Kunstverein, Amsterdam and Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Austria.

Grazer Kunstverein
Palais Trauttmansdorff
Burggasse 4
8010 Graz, Austria
Opening hours: Wednesday–Sunday 11–18
T 43 (0)316 83 41 41
F 43 (0)316 83 41 42
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