Curator: Maja Škerbot
Assistant Curator: Aleksandra Rošer

18. 5. - 7. 10. 2007

Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti Slovenj Gradec
Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts Slovenj Gradec
50 let / years


Milena Zlatar
The Exhibition Thread
at the 50th Anniversary of the
Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts

Maja Škerbot
Curator of the exhibition Thread

Thread – Privacies Yours and Ours

Milena Zlatar
The Exhibition Thread at the 50th Anniversary
of the Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts

Western European culture knows of the myth of Ariadne, who gave a ball of thread to Theseus to help him return from inside the maze. It was a thread of spiritual exploration, connecting different worlds and states of mind at a symbolic level. A synonym for the other side of the world – the material and practical side – is a thread of weft, the basis for weaving and manual work. Both worlds are intertwined, and the threads are interlaced in any creative work, the most advanced refinement of which is art. To weave means to create from one’s own substance, just as a spider spins its web out of its own body. The symbolic and material aspects of thread are known to all cultures. This is why the notion of “main thread” as a guiding theme is so meaningful, not only signifying continuity but also encompassing conceptual and psychological factors. To thread a needle signifies a passage, and frequently we also speak of the thread of destiny.

These articulate and manifold meanings of thread, as well as the growing use of thread as a material that not only dictates the métier approach in contemporary art practice but also has much wider connotations (in historical, philosophical, social and other contexts), prompted the idea of organising an exhibition that would be special as a theme in art, as well as eloquent in the sense of the fifty years of ongoing activity of the gallery. We also wanted the exhibition to be in accord with the times, when artists less frequently turn to classical painting and sculpting materials or contemporary visual means of presentation (film, video,, performance, etc.) but now often incorporate commonplace materials. Since the early use of thread (textiles), particularly evident in the applied arts (e.g. French tapestries of the 17th and 18th centuries based on motifs of individual artists), the development of manufacturing gradually removed the thread from artistic endeavours – regardless of the simultaneous development of high-style design. It was only in the 20th century that important artists (G. Balla, P. Picasso) dared to reinvest this “mediocre” material (thread) with new value, so that it could undergo a kind of revival at the turn of the 21st century to become an element accorded equal value in contemporary art practice. Or, as the originator and guest curator of the exhibition, Maja Škerbot claims: “The prolific use of thread as a material in the framework of art production has instigated the international group exhibition Thread. The exhibition aims at unveiling a segment of the plural character of contemporary visual art, but also at exposing socially critical issues, which have often been primary themes of exhibitions in the Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts in Slovenj Gradec – also by means of curatorial strategy. It is significant that numerous artists currently creating with thread have been inspired by different regions of their private territories and phenomena, which is clearly reflected in their artworks. You are kindly invited to join us and explore, along with the artists and ourselves, a space of privacy that could be yours or ours… or maybe only theirs.”

The private and the public always intertwine and manifest themselves in art, as do all kinds of human incentives. If something private is to become public, the artist must employ all of his or her creative power, while the public must also be ready (and able) to accept the proffered. Here the gallery and its curator play a prominent role in preparing a public presentation and interpretation based on scientific exploration. This mode of communication is multi-layered, essential and vital. Young enthusiasts working in Slovenj Gradec in the middle of the 20th century were well aware of this fact when they founded the Academic Group and organised a cycle of lectures entitled “Fine Art Views”. They also presented their programme emphasising that “the aim is to educate people and present for their consideration the basic elements of aesthetic values, arts, urban planning, architecture, domestic culture, folk art, applied arts, industrial design and other spheres supplementing these issues” (quoted from a booklet published on the first anniversary of the gallery, then called The Art Pavilion, in 1958). This indicates that they aimed primarily to educate people and make a solid basis for further work, along with the founding of a specialised gallery for temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection of artwork.

The aspirations of young enthusiasts of the Academic Group (founded by Marijan Gnamuš, Primož Simoniti, Mirko Zdovc and Karel Pečko) were supported by many individuals and prominent families, as well as local and national experts and the wider public. The idea was realised on 18 May 1957 when the local People’s Committee founded the Art Pavilion and delegated its leadership to the academic painter Karel Pečko. With his own strong vision and the engagement of experts and the general public, Pečko succeeded in bringing the gallery into international prominence. In connection with the humanistic principles of the United Nations, the gallery was also a lever for bringing together of all the noble endeavours of the Peace Messenger City of Slovenj Gradec. Today, the Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts has a well-defined mission, a recognisable collection and a bold plan for future development.

Maja Škerbot
Curator of the exhibition Thread
Thread – Privacies Yours and Ours

Today, visual production is more varied than ever. The history of art, however, narrates of a long period when art was a rather closed, obdurate and – as we could undoubtedly claim – elite system. Since the Renaissance, motifs depicted in works of art were primarily related to different mythological, religious and historical themes. Nevertheless, it has been more than a century ago that the art system also turned to a number of profane themes. And for several decades now, artists have been reaching more and more into numerous other spheres of human activity, extracting individual phenomena and authentic facts from their immediate environment and translating them – almost invariably using critical approaches and manifold aesthetic languages – into specific positions of visual art according to (their own) interests. De facto, art has indicated the times and surroundings. It still does, of course.

Thread as a material in the history of art
And this is not only true for thematic levels of art. Materials used by artists for their creations and positions are not limited only to oil paint, canvas, blocks of marble and other precious materials. Actually there is almost no material or technology that a contemporary artist would not incorporate into his or her work. Thread – defined as a long, thin fibre cord – has been viewed as a functional material for many centuries, yet it was hardly felt in art. Museum collections frequently include needles, hinting at the use of different kinds of thread. But the clothing culture deals with fashion rather than exploration of clues about thread as a material in the visual arts – no matter how pluralistic we intend to be. Articles of applied art – (national) embroidery, knitwear, crocheted items, knotting and the like – are certainly closer to our genealogy, and so are the Middle Ages, as well as French and Flemish tapestries. The path of thread to becoming an autonomous material and means of creation was quite long. If we ignore the fact that thread forms the groundwork of every canvas, it was first used as a material for artistic creation in the works of Russian Suprematists, Futurists (G. Balla) and Cubists (Picasso). The subsequent decline of movements with a revolutionary charge, however, also meant the vanishing of the extensive application of thread as a material in the visual arts until the 1970's. In the recent history of art we know of the Italian artist Alighiero Boetti, who made designs for carpets and had them weaved by Algerian women, thus conveying the message that art was something more than the Western art system was willing to recognise. During the same decade, Juan Miro was using rope in his work. And Lygia Clark and Eva Hesse, also of the Western world and the same period, started to use thread as a material in their artistic creations. Eva Hesse took thread and its weight, mass, composition and form to explore its own contradictions. Since the 1980s, thread has also been used from the feminist standpoint, showing its new facets in the works of Miriam Schapiro, Rosemarie Trockel, Louise Bourgeois, Ghada Amer, Annette Messager and Tracey Emin – to name only the most renowned artists. Since the 1990s, Elaine Reichek has been inspired by icons from art history, appropriating and embroidering them as motives. Her works combine the handicraft technique of sewing with art, and in this manner she conceptually approaches the history of art.

Thread as an authonomous material
of contemporary visual production

Although thread as a material was slow to enter the arena of established or "high" art – to recall the distinction made by C. Greenberg – at the beginning of the new millennium it has inspired so many artists in their work and positions that we could speak of a true phenomenon in the field of the most recent visual production. The reasons for such massive utilisation of this material, long confined to the spheres of clothing culture and applied art, are numerous. One of the most prominent is surely related to the pluralistic character of contemporary society, which is certainly also reflected in contemporary art, including the visual arts.

Thread as a synonym for women's creativity
Is this material of artistic creation and positing used primarily by women? It would be deceptive to claim that this is not so in most cases. After all, this material has been the domain of women's handiwork for centuries. And this is why we can see that it is primarily women who are frequently inspired by thread as a material, exposing it in their artistic statements and positions and placing it in various artistic contexts. But thread as a material also represents a challenge for a number of male artists. The current period and its agents have confronted and exposed numerous traditionally entrenched biases.

Thread in the scope of different art techniques and media
Female and male artists alike use thread as a material at different stages of their creation of artworks. Notably frequent are works that use thread in a Modernist vein, i.e. questioning their own means. We also notice that in contemporary works of art these principles often represent just a component part of a complex work. Even more numerous are works in which thread is reduced to a means of creation, but it still figures as an indispensable part of the artwork. The exhibition Thread includes works pointing to both artistic positions over a wide range of media characteristic of contemporary visual production. Thread frequently substitutes for a painting or drawing stroke ("piercing the canvas": J. Flinzer, I. Melsheimer, M. Löffke, P. Varl, K. Takemura); thread is used for entire sculptures (C. Shiota, P. Waller, B. Bernsteiner) or objects only partially made from it (Z. Janin, W. Bartsch, J. Morton, T. Candiani, P. Maher, I. Schieferstein); numerous are examples of installations (A. Tuominen, A. Tempel, A. Ožbolt, E. Antoine, J. Koeke, M. Van der Meij, S. Pelletier) using thread, wool, rope and similar materials in many different ways, incorporating them and conveying new messages frequently related to actual social-political (C. Föttinger) and private (B. Caveng, J. Van Koolwijk) iconographies. And, even performances (M. M. Pungerčar, S. Wawro), photography and video art (R. Banet) are not immune to this material – one that was relegated to the domain of utilitarian creation for centuries.

The eloquent thread and the curatorial concept
of the exhibition Thread

The Thread exhibition is based on the fact that nowadays, thread is a highly autonomous and widely used material of visual art practices and statements, which is reflected in a wide-ranging choice of techniques, and on the fact that thread remains synonymous with the subtle artistic creation of women. In principle, the exhibition is oriented towards works of recent origin, and one of its main aims is to present the inventive use of this so-called cheap material. It has been claimed in analyses – and it is also evident in the selection of artists participating in the Thread exhibition – that at the beginning of the new millennium, artists do not depart essentially from traditional, inherent and outward properties of thread, just as it was in the pioneering times of using thread as an artistic material. Artists employ it eloquently as a symbol related to clothing culture, handicraft skills and women's creativity, and they also emphasise communication and the meditative quality of the activities of sewing, embroidering, crocheting, knitting and the like. They create positions that reflect the utilitarian quality of the material known from households, big sewing workshops and industry. By means of the intrinsic eloquence of the material, they take account of various social interactions and illuminate different phenomena. Many works reflect intimate stories and contemporary society with artistic distance and excess, and often they are humorous. And when such works touch upon emotionally complicated existential subjects, they are almost invariably self-ironic. These themes have been the leading ideas of the curatorial concept behind the Thread exhibition, which was realised as a narration and conceived as a response to – or a progressive continuity of – a number of exhibitions that have recently shed light to the phenomenon of thread and its use in art production.1 The aim of the Thread exhibition is an event that not only presents the eloquent positions of individual artists dispersed in the gallery space, but entails – in the style of the Gesamtkunstwerk – a narration that can be read at both micro and macro levels. At the micro level this means that individual works are placed in mutual dialogues, that they communicate one with another especially on the contextual levels and that they mutually enrich each other; and on the macro level it refers to the formulation of a concept that connects all the individual works into a whole evident to the visitor when he/she walks through the gallery. At first sight this concept is somewhat veiled, but the visitor sooner or later finds out that he/she has entered a staged private apartment, in which certain rooms are rather filled up, while others are almost empty. In fact, the exhibition is a walk through an apartment inhabited by people who are very open to visitors; they hide nothing, they do not pretend nor veil their most intimate practices, and they proudly reveal their successes, momentary ideas, fantasies and fears. In this manner, the exhibition begins with two works exhibited in the public space: in front of the shopping centre and in front of the Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts. These artworks by two "such inhabitants" (J. Morton and W. Bartsch) announce the event in the gallery. The exhibition indoors also opens in a similar manner: the first two exhibited works (by S. Pelletier and A. Tempel) are placed in front of the gallery hall holding the bulk of the exhibition, and they point to the leading subject of the exhibition: thread as an autonomous material of contemporary artistic creation is placed on a pedestal by way of original and humorous themes. Then the visitor is invited to help him-/herself to the delicacies of the banquet (P. Waller) and the kitchen (e.g. B. Bernsteiner and A. Tuominen); to walk into the living room (e.g., P. Maher, C. Föttinger, P. Varl and E. Lesjak) connected to the indoor public spaces (S. Wawro and M. M. Pungerčar) and the chapel; a further stroll brings him/her to the intimate bedroom section (e.g., B. Caveng, T. Candiani and E. Antoine) and the toilet (L. Cerar & S. Sedlaček); then he/she comes to the position announcing the evening, or ending (I. Schieferstein), and finally to a work enabling reflection on our awareness and understanding (A. Ožbolt).2 The outlined concept was also conceived with the aim that the exhibition would please both lay and expert visitors – this has been the mission of the Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts for half a decade now. Along with numerous outstanding exhibitions and collections of predominantly domestic artists, the gallery has hosted the Slovene Biennial of Applied Arts and Crafts for a number of years. Therefore, the selection of a phenomenon on the edge of applied art, clothing culture and the so-called high art, presented by the selected works and positions, is not a coincidence at all.

A more profound stroll through the Thread exhibition 3

a. Antechamber
In the gallery space, the Thread exhibition opens with the work of the Swiss artist Sandrine Pelletier. This interior – a hybrid of a hotel room and a traditional folkloric space – pays tribute to horror films by Alfred Hitchcock and thrillers by Dario Argent (with their up-to-date ambiences containing elements of cruelty, awesome romanticism and fairy tales about witches). It also reflects the anonymity of brothel pleasures, referring directly to the analogy between these pleasures and the position of contemporary artists frequently forced to act as prostitutes in relation to gallery owners and curators, who often decide – especially in the case of emerging artists still forming their positions in the framework of the art system – about the presentation of their artistic statements and their breakthrough into the art world. This Pelletier work at the entrance to the exhibition represents a door into the experience of the art system, whose character, or subject, is then defined in the work of André Tempel, a German artist living and working in Dresden. This artist uses thread in his creations only exceptionally. His scissors as industrially manufactured objects are enwrapped in white and red thread; they have been paradoxically and humorously stripped of their function. This artwork, with its pure formal language and a great deal of humour, appears as a metaphor for a world turned upside down and reflects numerous paradoxes of contemporary society, while its position near the entrance to the gallery defines and announces once again the subject matter proclaimed in the title of this exhibition project.

b. Banquet
A steak and different snacks crocheted from a woollen thread, a lobster embellished with leaves of lettuce, a plate of different kinds of cheese, a plate of eggs and a bread basket – all these represent another ironic position formed by Patricia Waller, a prominent artist living and working in Karlsruhe, Germany, who finds her inspiration in utilitarian objects and materials. Her work is an aesthetic sublimation of the banquets that accompany the bulk of cultural (among other) events. As a Trojan horse, this work humorously points to philistinism and taboos of different configurations of contemporary society and – placed as it is in the gallery space – it surely reflects the ambience at openings of exhibitions, where artists and their works are frequently pushed to the background, while visitors usually engage more in socialising, and satisfy themselves with the fact of being seen and signalling that they are still alive.

c. Kitchen
At the same time, Waller's humorous position announces that we are in a space marked by food, i.e. the kitchen. In her kitchen installation, Barbara Bernsteiner speaks about confinement and hope. Her objects – all covered by the same crocheted pattern in the same grey hue – refer to frequent transformations of the finest moments in our lives into their opposite; hope still remains, however, and the artist symbolically captures it in the waggish but real ticking of the wall clock. Beside this, another prominent part of this work is its carefully thought-out formal side as the result of reflections on fine art principles within a narrative ambience, which have led to a composition of objects that mirrors pure modernist visual language to a high degree. This work in the kitchen part of the Thread exhibition is faced by an installation by the Finnish artist Anu Tuominen, in which colour and form also play an important role, so characteristic of modernist research and its self-engrossment in colour, form and dimension. The form – a long, thin structure of thread – and colours – oil paints in Tuominen's work often blend into new shades and hues – have been used in a highly inventive and humorous manner. The artist combines crocheted cotton thread, a typical useful and creative material of our households, with cookery devices, such as a grater and threads of red carrots; a salt cellar and a lace of salt; and a small "doily" as a tasteful fruit, be it a sour cherry, cherry, plum or whatever. The surplus is a caricature speaking about the material, which is also noticeable in the work of the Canadian artist Janet Morton, who has used a grey tweed fabric to enwrap a series of cookery utensils and decorative objects, including the exhibited works, i.e. a potted plant and eggbeaters.

d. Public Space
An urgent discourse! This artist from Toronto is also one of two artists exhibiting their works outside the gallery premises, on the streets of Slovenj Gradec, which invite people to see the exhibition in the gallery. In her playful and critical artistic statements, which associate themselves with the comfort of our households, Morton dedicates her special attention to the contemporary perception of tradition. In front of the gallery, on the main street in Slovenj Gradec, she has materialised tradition in a tree covered with lace; its romantic appearance questions the meaning and value of the creativity of our grandmothers, who were still familiar with the meditative air of creating lace doilies, for example, and with the socialising function of crocheting, knitting, embroidering and bobbin work, a speciality in Slovenia, during which women used to chat, discuss things and inform themselves – which contemporary women often feel is missing.

Back to the gallery space, to the kitchen. We come upon two works by an artist whose other works are placed elsewhere in the gallery. These images, featuring proud owners of new kitchen furniture, were made by the Slovene artist Petra Varl. Dislocation? This is a negation of the classical strategy of the exhibition set-up, in which every artist is given his/her (tiny) corner. As the Thread exhibition is intensely filled with life, this feature reflects also in the dispersed home!

e. Living Room
Marija Mojca Pungerčar, a Slovene artist living and working in Ljubljana, takes the visitor into the ambience of a private public space. Her installation pays tribute to the textile industry, handicraft and, of course, contemporary art expression. The essence of the work – a continuation of her previous project, which is included in the current one in the form of an archive value – is eighty metres of fashion fabric that may be bought cheaply for EUR 8.99/m. Furthermore, the artist organised workshops at which each person could sew his/her own garment or trimming from the fabric. With this project, the artist inventively touches upon a chapter in the history of art in which seriality reminds of multiple products. The artistic value of the fabric is humorously emphasised by the analogy between art and the sale of ready-made clothes, evident in her series of paintings in three different sizes, i.e. L, M and S. Available for purchase, of course – but there are only two pieces of each size. As to the colours and the documentary video shown on a TV screen, denoting the ambience of a working and living room, this work combines with a wall-mounted piece by Polona Maher, an artist living and working in Maribor, and three artworks by the German artist Claus Föttinger, which are a blend of contemporary visual expression and interior design. The artistic strategy of this artist, who lives in Düsseldorf and the Netherlands, has also been included in the exhibition as a Trojan horse, for the functions and contents of these useful objects (shown primarily on the photographs included in the chandelier and the lamp, and in texts written on the object that brings to mind a computer "box") raise questions about political phenomena, or reflect social interaction and communication, which can be – in the rushed and ambitious time that we live in – very banal and destructive for the relationships between people. A counterpart to the pleasant ambience of the working space shown by Pungerčar is a work by Silke Wawro, an artist living and working in Leipzig and Amsterdam. In a certain way, these two exhibited works also oscillate between fashion trimmings and art. In her performance at the opening of the exhibition, the artist took on the role of dressmaker, sewing animal forms – with eloquently symbolic hunting iconography – onto the garments of visitors. In her work she speaks about identification dictated by garments, about signals ascribed in the process of socialisation, when different persons take on the roles of either hunters or victims. Relative to the Wawro hunting aesthetic containing a touch of the popular is the sculpture by the Dutch artist Marjolijn van der Meij, in which four puppets – actually products of applied art – were used as ready-made objects; one of the figures holds a wooden spool with coiled thread in her hands. At first sight, this newly arranged and sculpturally frozen scene may be read as a caricature. It shows a clash of three women with a fourth one, which is far from our conception of the traditional. This new provocative emplacement of figures with highly expressive gesticulation points to the questioning of reality and manipulation.

The living room ambience may also be felt in the following "room" of the Thread exhibition, featuring several wall pieces and ambient works. On one of the walls, Polona Maher exhibits a series of five exquisitely refined and accomplished works, which pay tribute to (cheap) materials, such as thread, textiles, trimmings, cardboard and paper from shoeboxes, combined according to purely modernistic principles and paying due attention to form, colour and spatial elements. Their abstraction arouses in the viewer a chain of subjective perceptions and associations. The use of cheap materials (contrary to modernist principles, which nowadays are rather outdated and used only in rational, considered and progressively oriented works) is inventive, and it reflects on and indirectly criticises contemporary society brimming with material goods. The cycle of images by Petra Varl is based on drawings printed on canvas. Some contours and especially larger surfaces have been sewn – according to the principle of a children's colouring book – with expressive, machine-sewn stitches. Portraits, which are so characteristic for the artist, also feature in the joint work by Varl and Eduard Lesjak. Their collaboration resulted in a harmonious dialogue between the two artists. The confluence of two quite different visual languages – Varl expresses herself in realism and Lesjak in abstraction – speaks interestingly of the current generation of adolescents with their fragility and determination, and it announces Lesjak's individual work. The creativity of this artist living and working in Klagenfurt is essentially marked by thread as an artistic material for the exploration of his specific abstract language, underpinned by the rectangular shapes of the bearer – the so-called modules – in vivid fluorescent colours. Similar colours are also evident in the ambient installation of the Polish artist Zuzanna Janin. Apart from thread employed as a means of creation of the artwork, she also used garments of public workers, which are highly visible because of their colours. The artist has created a sitting set, a kind of an island at the Thread exhibition, which offers the visitor a place to sit or lie down and contemplate the seen; nevertheless, this is primarily a work that raises awareness about the unselfish work of public workers, the artist's statement claiming that all too often, especially as the "catastrophes" come to an end, we tend to forget the persons who tried hard to save our lives in dangerous conditions, sometimes even losing their own lives in the meantime. The garment as a binding element of this part of the exhibition reappears in the work of Jochen Flinzer, a prominent German artist living in Hamburg, who has been using thread as a painting and drawing stroke already for almost two decades, although his paintings also contain a sculptural component. His artworks function simultaneously on two planes, i.e. the front and back sides of the painting. His paintings, in which he contextually refers to the dress code of contemporary society and its groupings, principally show two opposite modes of reflection: on the one hand they are marked by an abstract language, on the other hand by the mimetic – and the latter defines the forms and colours of the abstract side of the work. Besides, every depicted garment, be it a fluorescent working jacket, Fred Perry T-shirt or tie, bears a complete narration created by means of sewing, which Flinzer sees as being somewhere between the absurd and the comical, and emphasising the triviality of the day. Experiences of the everyday real world are also evident in the work of another artist living and working in Hamburg. Martin Löffke complements reality with a metaphysical or fairy-like world conceived in creative moments in the artist's mind. In a certain way, his sewn images pay tribute to the unconscious; the figures, structures and also words applied to the canvas result from the artist's momentary inspiration and impulses acquired from the surroundings, which he is often able to comprehend only much later. At the same time, his inspirational works also pay homage to the meditative stage of the artistic process – be it handicraft, artistic creativity or any other creative act as such.

f. Chapel
It is precisely with this Löffke work that the stroll through the apartment leads to the domain of thoughts about our (hidden) inner powers, which, however, have no permanent source. The installation by Julia van Koolwijk, an artist living and working in Düsseldorf, reflects the need that we sometimes recourse to our inner self, or something called God, regardless of its face – i.e. to introverted states. A chapel. In the apartment. In the gallery. A bow to religion. To polytheism. To the human being. To the family. The family is sacred. And joyful. Or, that is how it should be. In this work, the artist uses thread as a pastose layer of paint – revealing itself as a kitschy aesthetic of numerous colourful patterns sewn by a sewing machine – and actualises the perception of the body. Photographs are printed on small, sewn textile objects surrounded by painted, positive and kitschy patterns, and they remind one of the pristine and unadorned bodies known from the works of Nan Goldin. An artist's book by Andrejka Čufer from Vrba in Upper Carniola, Slovenia, pays tribute to life and all kinds of phenomena referred to as miracles, and it is purposely exhibited as if it were a holy book. It brings the artist's visual and verbal meditations on syntagmas connected with thread, such as the main thematic thread, lifesaving thread, first thread or umbilical cord, astral thread, spider thread and the like.
Another introverted and highly subtle work is a sculptural installation by the Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, in which black, densely interlaced cotton thread cuts the air like a razor and incises white, hovering garments, which point to the presence of the soul and spirit. Captured. Dreadfully captured. Only the vertical emplacement of the phantom-like figures, which hint at a mother with two daughters, convey optimism; this is even emphasised by the mirrors turned outwards, suggesting the chaotic world in which we are sometimes caught. It is precisely this captivity that invests the artwork with a tone of the real, in which fears – when looked directly in the face – present a driving force of satisfaction or, frequently, even survival. Shiota's black threads are opposed by the entwinements of white threads, which breathe in captivity behind glass in two objects comprising one of the three exhibited works by Alen Ožbolt, a Slovene artist living and working in Ljubljana. His works are marked by a high level of sensitivity, subtlety and gentleness, and they sometimes appear ethereally in front of us as apparitions, bringing to mind REM phases, or even transcendental states. The meditative ambience proper to Ožbolt's works is spread around the gallery with his three works, and together with similar works they provide for islands of profound emotional states. The huge wall-mounted work by Kei Takemura, a Japanese artist living and working in Berlin, is made of transparent materials, which speak with their fragility about shelter and the tenderness of the artist's childhood, and her current perception and memories about it. The space is represented in perspective; in its intimacy it actually also pays tribute to the globalised world. We become aware of this fact when reading the humorous tone of the title of the work: Japanese silk thread is combined with Italian synthetic cloth, and German wax and felt pencils.

g. Intimate Spaces
At this point, the intimate spheres – which the visitor has encountered during his/her stroll through the exhibition, evoking contrasting feelings of homeyness and security, despair and courage – acquire a dimension in which the soul merges with desire and reflects flesh, blood and pain. The installation by Tania Candiani, an artist living and working in Tijuana and Mexico City, honours life filled with the absurd, and the artist speaks about it with a great deal of irony. The Slovene words "še" ("more") and "hvala" ("thanks") sewn onto a mattress as mantras self-ironically radiate the profound gratefulness of a woman in her fulfilling relationship with a man. The artist also humorously employs the materiality of thread as an artistic material, which symbolically – as a traditional material of household practices – speaks about traditional women's roles (model housewife, laborious worker, caring wife and mother), while at the same time it also speaks about the use of thread as an autonomous material in contemporary visual art practices. The encouraging, optimistic sentence "Pain is the sophistication of pleasure" embroidered on inflated balloons and forming part of Candiani's installation, is placed in a contrast with a work by Barbara Caveng, a Swiss artist living and working in Berlin. "If it hurts, invent another pain", she has sewn with eloquent red thread onto the wall. Her installation expresses a plethora of symbols speaking of evaluations, decisions, endings and beginnings, of paradoxes and unpredictability, which face every individual in the moments when he/she finds out that luck is not definite. The leading theme of Caveng's installation, speaking of "a divorce as an amputation", is eloquent on the visual and semantic level – you surely survive, but there is less of you at various levels. The sanguine character symbolically contained in her work – actually an homage to the Canadian writer, poet, feminist and activist Margaret Atwood – has been a leitmotif in her further installations.
The Polish artist Justyna Koeke, who lives and works in Stuttgart and Cracow, creates the message of her work with soft fabric and thread. Her wall-mounted sculptural installation is an imaginary conglomeration, which primarily and in detail brings to mind flowers, leaves, paramoecia and amoebae, snail shells, phalluses, vaginas and other organic structures, interconnected by means of tubiform linking elements made of the same material. The formal language, together with the language of colour and the soft material, is a fine homage to the most important liquid of life. Blood is also used by Isa Melsheimer, a German artist living and working in Berlin. Small red forms of thread are sewn onto a green and yellow fabric adorned with pearls, like red blood cells taking care of the vitality of our organism. The juicy swear word Another Fucking Day is actually tireless and vulgar – as we all are, whether we hide it according to good manners or not. It is a statement of blood personified, or the circulation of blood, which has appropriated – despite its reflex functioning – the right to complaint, or to self-stimulation, in fact, frequently needed especially in the mornings.
The construction of a women's sleeping corner, offering space for dreaming, longing, fantasies, hopes and esotericism, forms part of the installation by the Belgian artist Élodie Antoine. The properties of the utilised material, together with formal elements and other inventively conceived ideas, are the main compositional elements of the metaphysical ambience. The artist has invested the unfashionable and non-seductive pieces of underwear with new dimensions marked by mystical connotations and a humorous character. Elastic panties are decorated with pubic hair amidst flowers or Celtic mystical patterns, while each of these amusing objects also functions as a picture. A witty, socially critical statement also radiates from the installation by the Slovene artists Lada Cerar and Sašo Sedlaček, who occasionally work as a duo. In the framework of the exhibition concept, their work represents the most intimate space in the apartment, the toilet. Images and written texts are a visual translation and elaboration of a work by the philosopher Slavoj Žižek, or his thoughts about national character as defined by the type of lavatory characteristic for various countries. In this connection the work reflects the complicated fact of economic and political reality in the Western world, which causes the relocation of production to the East, especially to the Asian continent, while the West is facing the phenomena of emptiness and the weariness of its citizens as a result of unemployment. The humorous dimension included in the duo's work connects with Antoine's poetics and continues in the work by Wiebke Bartsch, a sculpture in the form of a pink-coloured chandelier with sewed-on appliqués, which is obviously changed into a personified phallus awkwardly curving its limbs towards the ground and making Bartsch's partially ready-made object a symbol a captured man.

h. Public Space Again
This point calls for another discourse. Wiebke Bartsch is also the artist whose work on four wheels we can meet at different locations in Slovenj Gradec. She has installed her work into a personal car. It is marked with a high level of humour reflecting the reality of elderly people, who are captured by their immobility into closed and frequently senile, confused and peculiarly bizarre worlds, and who consent to be taken – together with their birds – to the shopping mall. Bartsch's artistic statement in the form of a public sculpture also calls attention and invites viewers to the exhibition.

i. Surgery Room
The surgical ambience which fills the only isolated space in the big hall can be noticed in both works presented there: one by Rosalía Banet, an artist living in Madrid, and another by Michael Kos, who lives in Vienna. Banet's video presents an act of surgery on artificial matter shaped like a cake and alluding to human flesh; together with eyeballs and a musical score, it is the self-ironic reflection of a contemporary, emancipated woman pointing to emotions, confusion, abandonment and longings. Opposite to the organic element in this work is Michael Kos' installation, in which the artist used iron thread to sew fissures in the stone, thus inbreathing it with a soul and paying tribute to the material as the basis of his artistic creations and visions.

j. Exit
Towards the end of the exhibition, the visitor comes across an intimate and mysterious work by Iris Schieferstein, an artist working in Berlin. Her hybrid creatures sewn of the skins, organs and limbs of dead animals and submerged in formaldehyde show themselves in a Hirst-like aesthetic of the hideous. The work fascinates on the edge of admiration and aversion, but the triptych is semantically eloquent: "Heute mache ich mir kein Abendbrot, heute mache ich mir Gedanken" ("Today I Will Make No Dinner, Today I Will Think"). The choice of the material, i.e. thread, used as a means of creating the sculpture and as an application, as well as the textual part of the work, hint at a woman and her leisure time dedicated to revitalisation. While announcing the evening, this work also heralds the end of the exhibition, which closes with a sensible and subtle work by Alen Ožbolt, an artist living in Ljubljana, who puts our senses on trial. As revealed by its title, this work relates to the unconscious and cosmic states, as well as to the uncertainty encountered when we are fully awake. This Ožbolt work, a staircase laden with pillows, encourages the visitor to the exhibition – on the intimately human level and on the level of the whole visual system – to re-evaluate his/her own assessment of the seen and the experienced, and to establish a solid position as an entrance ticket for a successful further route.

1 For example: Loose Threads, The Serpentine Gallery, London, 22 August–20 September 1998; KUNST STOFF, Nächst St Stephan Gallery, Vienna, 5 March–24 April 2004; "…an der Nadel", Nassauishe Kunstverien, Wiesbaden, 5 September–17 October 2004; Flexible 4, The Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, Manchester, Great Britain, 14 November 2003–15 February 2004; Dutch Textile Museum, Tilburg, the Netherlands, 6 March–6 June 2004; Kunsthallen Brandts Klaedefabrik, Odense, Denmark, 3 July–12 September 2004; Landesgalerie am Oberösterreichischen Landesmuseum, Linz, Austria, 29 September–7 November 2004; and Rheinisches Industriemuseum, Euskirchen, Germany, 19 February–15 May 2005.
2 A more profound stroll through the Thread exhibition can be found in the next chapter.
3 More information about individual artists and their works can be found in the presentation of individual artists.


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