Woven textiles hold a particular place between image and architecture.
T’ai Smith (University of British Columbia, Vancouver) discusses the role of ‘fabric in space’ in the Bauhaus weaving studios and especially the work of the modernist weaver Otti Berger. Textiles, Berger discovered around 1929, are not the product of just one medium – say weaving, the loom, or interlocked threads – but rather emerge from their contact with many media, namely architecture, painting, graphic design, photography.
So how do we understand the plurality that is the textile, with its foregrounding of a sensory dimension (namely, tactility) typically left silent amidst dominant discourses of art and media? Berger suggests that in order to simultaneously “understand” or “hold” (begreifen) a piece of cloth, one must grasp it as a product, and productive of, various sensory modes. Indeed, perhaps the problems of “textile media” can serve as a starting point for a re-conception of modernism in the present day.
Read a blog post from textile expert Rudolf Smend