Fabric of the City. Bauhaus-100
Maria Arendt describes an imaginary city she’s never been to before, perhaps she saw it in a dream. In her world it is constructed layer by layer: rock, concrete, clay, bricks, scaffolding… no, that’s not how it is – instead the carcass is made of fabric, bundles of thread, cloth, newspaper.
This tribute to the Bauhaus is both loving and destructive, a kind of sweet and devoted fan art on the one hand, it is also a provocation to depict these colossal edifices renowned for straight-edge sturdiness in wobbling crumpled stitch. Unlike their subject matter Arendt’s fabrics are soft and tousled, giving them a pleasant approachability. Revealing their soul to the viewer even further, Arendt also shows the reverse of her works, never knowing which face she prefers. After all, this is the junction at which alternative stories become possible. Perhaps the underside of the work is its truest side.
For Arendt becoming an artist wasn’t a challenge in the way it is for many – she comes from an artists’ family where creative thinking was the norm. She chose to specialise in the profession of embroidery, starting her career with orthodox icons. But her work has grown, gained confidence, speed, and experimental audacity. Instead of filling the shoes prescribed to a craftswoman she uses the medium to challenge its stereotypes on the one hand, and gendered creative professions more broadly. She doesn’t even see her own work as craft, but as contemporary art - monumental drawings with thread on fabric. She now wields her needle over icons of an altogether different calibre – colossal male monumentalists of modernism and the avant-garde. Both reverent and provocative, formalist and conceptual, she threads together a story, an embroidered conversation between herself, audiences, her artist ancestors, artistic idols and craftspeople around the world.
Text by Ariadna Arendt