Embroidery and especially the cross stitch have a strong tradition in Graubünden. The rich embroidery collection at the Raetian Museum offers an occasion to look at local embroidery in an extended context. Concurrently the actuality of this artistic practice is emphasised from the perspective of contemporary art.
The exhibition shows embroidery from Graubünden and confronts it with works by international artists. This shows clearly that the artisanal tradition of Graubünden was nourished by different cultures right from the beginning. Here traditional embroidery raises questions, which must be asked afresh against the background of other social and cultural experience. Female connoted handicraft was clearly upgraded and promoted at the beginning of the 20th century, at the same time artists such as Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Alice Bailly and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner greatly contributed by giving new impulses to the art of the avant-garde in the spirit of arts and crafts. Years later artists again take up needle and thread, or like Alighiero Boetti or Susan Hefuna bridge borders and cultures with their work.
Contemporary art with embroidery wants to question and break open traditional aesthetics. Thus Louise Bourgeois uses articles of clothing for her works and makes them to bearers of emotional and psychological states. Eliza Bennet who stitches embroidery into her own hands, or Véronique Arnold who portrays women embroiderers, point to the working conditions in industry and private households. Elaine Reichek, on the other hand, analyses how thread as a means of female empowerment appears in classical mythology and how these stories were further developed in European painting. By contrast, Gözde Ilkin captures figures on their wanderings on bed sheets and bed clothes and in this way develops impressive images about the search for home. Thus contemporary artists give needle and thread new power to imagine today’s world in a poetical and yet at the same time socio-critical way.
The exhibition curated by Stephan Kunz and Susann Wintsch shows, beside historic embroidery from Graubünden, works by Véronique Arnold (F), Latifa Attaii (AFG), Alice Bailly (CH), Eliza Bennett (GB), Alighiero Boetti (I), Louise Bourgeois (F/USA), Rehab Eldalil (EGY), Susan Hefuna (D/EGY), Gözde İlkin (TR), Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (D), Isa Melsheimer (D), Marisa Merz (I), Irene Posch (A), Elaine Reichek (USA), Jean-Frédéric Schnyder (CH), Rozita Sharafjahan (IR), Annegret Soltau (D), Sophie Taeuber-Arp (CH), wiedemann/mettler (CH), Jeanne Natalie Wintsch (POL/CH).