Image: Anna Ray - Knot
Entangled: Threads & Making is a major exhibition of sculpture, installation, tapestry, textiles and jewellery from the early 20th century to the present day. It features over 40 international female artists who expand the possibilities of knitting and embroidery, weaving, sewing and wood carving, often incorporating unexpected materials such as plants, clothing, hair and bird quills.
Entangled is curated by writer and critic Karen Wright which celebrates making processes through an all-woman line up of artists:
Caroline Achaintre | Anni Albers | Ghada Amer | Paola Anziche | Hrafnhildur Arnardottir / Shoplifter | Phyllida Barlow | Marion Baruch | Karla Black | Margret H. Blöndal Regina Bogat | Louise Bourgeois | Geta Bratescu | Sonia Delaunay | Laura Ford Ximena Garrido-Lecca | Sonia Gomes | Mona Hatoum | Marianne Heske | Eva Hesse | Sheila Hicks | Susan Hiller | Maureen Hodge | Christiane Lohr | Kate MccGwire | Annette Messager | Rivane Neuenschwander | Ann Cathrin November Hoibo | Lucy + Jorge Orta | Arna Ottarsdottir | Maria Papadimitriou | Sidsel Paaske | Anna Ray | Maria Roosen | Hannah Ryggen | Betye Saar | Judith Scott | Samara Scott | Kiki Smith | Aiko Tezuka | Rosemarie Trockel | Tatiana Trouve | Francis Upritchard | Joana Vasconcelos Ursula von Rydingsvard
Running from Saturday 28 January through to Sunday 7 May 2017, Entangled: Threads and Making brings together over 40 international artists from several generations who explore a diverse range of materials and techniques. All the artists in the exhibition share an intense curiosity about their chosen materials – from the traditional to the unexpected – and embrace the act of making by hand.
Entangled is curated by writer and critic Karen Wright, who was fascinated by the making processes she observed during visits to contemporary artists’ studios. These visits gave rise to the idea for an exhibition tracing the impact of 20th century pioneers of tapestry and textiles on artists working today. Quickly evolving into an all-woman line up, the selection of artists reflects a vibrant tendency in contemporary art-making by women in which experimentation with materials is central.
Victoria Pomery OBE, Turner Contemporary Director, comments: “At a time when women’s rights across the world are under threat, this is an extremely timely exhibition. Inventive, curious and experimental, all of the artists in this exhibition demonstrate innovation and creativity. The pioneering steps taken by several of the 20th century women artists in this exhibition have had huge influence on the work of successive generations, allowing contemporary artists to challenge boundaries even further.”
In the exhibition, Anni Albers and Hannah Ryggen, whose radical approaches to weaving in the early-20th century remain a source of inspiration for artists today, are shown alongside younger artists playing with the traditions of tapestry such as Ann Cathrin November Høibo and Caroline Achaintre. New pieces made especially for the exhibition include Anna Ray’s striking Margate Knot (2017) – a site-specific work produced by Ray and a host of local Margate makers; and an installation by Samara Scott in the museum’s lift that uses a combination of carpet, food colouring and yoghurt to entirely its walls, creating an immersive and, in the words of the artist, “overwhelming experience” for visitors to get in and up close to. Other stand out pieces include Kiki Smith’s narrative tapestry Sky (2012); thread terror (2016), a vast new cedar sculpture made especially for Entangled by Ursula Von Rydingsvard; and Hand (2001), an iconic work by Louise Bourgeois.
Describing the influence of Louise Bourgeois on the generations of artists who have come since, Frances Morris stated: “she was digging around at the point where mainstream met what could never at that time have been conceived of as art. We are now discovering that this is a fruitful place to look at creativity and innovation…. She redefined every engagement with the canon.”
Debates in 20th century art history have raised questions about the idea of a ‘feminine aesthetic’. Although using methods traditionally associated with ‘craft’ and ‘women’s work’, many of the artists in Entangled: Threads & Making, notably Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois, did not consider their work in terms of gender, with Hesse famously stating ‘excellence has no sex’. Nevertheless, the exhibition highlights women artists who have experimented and innovated through their approach to making and materials and who have frequently draw on the rich traditions of handwork and craft to create artworks that challenge established distinctions between fine and applied art.
Writing in an essay for the exhibition catalogue, the novelist Siri Hustvedt cautions of “a political moment when open misogyny has found a loud voice in American politics, when fantasies about the feminine Other have a renewed, contagious power, and a populist rhetoric of fury and fear have come to fascinate millions with a glamorous, if bitter, attraction….. When a woman lifts a brush to canvas or chips away at stone, builds or weaves an object or installation or dreams up a conceptual work, the resulting thing is not seen as an expression of the human condition but rather of woman’s second place in the culture as more physical than mental.”
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Entangled: Threads & Making is on view at Turner Contemporary, Margate, from Saturday 28 January until Sunday 7 May 2017. Admission is free.