Un-Break My Walls
April 6 – July 24, 2019
In many of her sculptural works and installations, Blattmann investigates the construction of space, takes spatial qualities as well as space-producing structures into consideration. This approach becomes quite evident in both of her large basket sculptures. Since 2018 the artist has engaged in the age-old technique of basket weaving that allows her to create spatially expansive structures thus enter into a dialogue with their environment. In They Have Broken with the Tradition of Inside and Outside (2019), her interest in the sculptural aspects of architecture and the architectonics of sculpture are particularly apparent. The two convex bodies, which Blattmann has woven and assembled into one object, are spatially integrating and rejecting at once, are equally permeable and self-contained. Corresponding with the lightness of its material, the sculpture is free-hanging in the space. The two-dimensional component of the second large basket Augurs (2019) is hanging above the floor like a plateau held by three bodies stretching up- wards. Here, the horizontal and the vertical, surface and space encounter one another, revealing more about the space-forming and space-creating potential of weaving. The texture of the basketworks alternates between woven textiles and the constructive element of architecture. The plaited material of the two large baskets is combined with reliefs of silicon. While the latter at first appear to be abstract structures, at closer inspection they become recognizable as birds’ heads. Inscribed in the weavings, there is a story: The Birds (414 B.C.) by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. In the comedy two citizens from Athens, Pisthetaerus and Euelpides, draft the political utopia of a liberal community. They convince the bird population, against their better knowledge, to become involved with the humans, to jointly found the state of “cloud-cuckoo-land” and to build and live as humans do. Coupled with the qualities of birds, this puts them in the position to control the sky and earth, the gods and humans. Yet soon the democracy degenerates into an autocracy, and the consequences of their negative influence on the stupid, stubborn or rather naïve masses become manifest. (...)
Blattmann’s interest in architecture or urban structures and their relationship to the human body forms the starting point for her series of shoes. Using silicone, ceramics, plaster and latex, the artist has created sculptures that are equally shoes and houses, or rather models of both. One form seems inseparable from the other. Her High Rise Boots (2017), for example, are piled up from stacked ceramic elements - the architecture of two high-rise buildings mutating into fashion in the form of a pair of boots. While some works in the series have no concrete sources, other models are replicas of iconic buildings - including Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House (1959 – 1973) and Erich Mendelsohn’s Einstein Tower (1919 – 1921), which became a counter-model to rationalist, industrial building through its anthropomorphic and physiognomical appearance. The altered dimension and form of the architecture, as well as its staging as a garment, make one relate the architecture very directly to one’s own body, even if it is only hinted at, even absent. The sculptures make it clear that the human physique is considerably shaped by space and raise questions about the spatial-social dispositive. In their synopsis, Blattmann’s shoes become a model city, an urban landscape that is set in motion, marching towards you. (...)
In the workgroup 6-Senses (2017–2019) organic and synthetic materials interfuse: the jute and the silicon reliefs blend to form a commingled substance; images and motifs penetrate and merge with the textile fabric. Empty spaces in the jute at the same time denote vacancies in the relief, an aspect which becomes particularly apparent in the work They Say That in the First Place the Vocabulary of Every Language Is to Be Examined, Modified, Turned Upside Down, That Every Word Must Be Screened (2018), where the artist has removed the longitudinal threads, the warp, from the woven material. This intervention as well as the method of working with multiple layers, as in Smell (2018), Venus Wringing Her Hair, Standing at the Water’s Edge (2019) and Touch (2018), break with the notion of the fabric as a mere support, turning it into an object in itself. A source of inspiration for the workgroup 6-Senses were the tapestries La Dame à Licorne (1484 – 1538) at the Paris Musée national du Moyen Âge, The Unicorn Tapestries (1495 – 1505) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and L’Apocalypse d’Angers (1373 – 1382) in the Château d’Angers. Though only one of the characters from the tapestries directly entered Blattmann’s works, a reference in view of formal aspects seems interesting. With her works the artist alludes to textile as a woven spatial structure, standing between the male-dominated realm of architecture and the techniques of clothing production, which historically are rather ascribed to the female. Other than in the woven works, here it is the hull and not the underlying construction which is brought into focus.
Blattmann’s works are imbued by a theoretical preoccupation with architectural principals. A reference point of the jute works is provided by Gottfried Semper’s book, Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts; or, Practical Aesthetics (1860), in which he describes textile as a fundamental material of building, and the processing of textile yarn into protective and covering fabric—from tents to clothing—as a primordial art. He breaks with architectural history by defining the hull rather than the inner construction as the moment at which architecture occurs, whereby he alters established architectonic hierarchies. Simultaneously, the artist’s works based on textile fabrics are emblematic for her oeuvre, for no other material, no technique is capable of affecting our sensual existence in such a universal manner as textile. In an increasingly unsensual time, the textile with its richness in weaving styles and textures seems to be the perfect medium to quench a need for sensuality. At the same time, it represents the intertwining of things, for endlessly entangled textures, which have originated from weaving to form a basis for technical networks. (...)➤ Un-Break My Walls, published by Mousse Publishing, edited by Merle Radtke with contributions by Chloe Stead, Huw Lemmey and Than Hussein Clark
— Merle Radtke