Windows and Bridges - Report of an intercultural textile exhibition of young artists
20.10.2022 - 20.11.2022
The City Art Gallery of Leonid Schemelev´s Art Works in Minsk, BY
Wandering in Dreams (2022), Nastassia Lagutenko, 60 x 60 / 40 x 40 / 30 x 30 cm, Material: wooden frame, tulle, acrylic, cotton
Report by Khristina Vysotskaya and Manuel Wandl
The exhibition "Windows and Bridges" was a unique international project that for the first time united Austrian and Belarusian contemporary textile art of the young generation of artists in a single exhibition space. The authors of the idea and curators of the project Manuel Wandl (Austria) and Khristina Vysotskaya (Belarus) proposed the audience to immerse themselves in the artistic rethinking of the topic, which is wide in abundance of concepts, forms, materials and techniques.
Why windows and bridges?
A pioneer of modern architecture – Le Corbusier said, “The history of architecture is also the history of windows”. It is more – it is also the history of culture, social society, technology, aesthetics and morality. Today, in the most countries, we are living with big windows. Not only as display windows in shopping malls our private houses also become a place like glass palaces. It shows that our society is changing to a transparent one. Privat and public becomes one what you can also see in the digital windows like social media. So it is not simply “the eyes of the houses”, windows open up connections between how we live and socio-cultural change.
Bridges are structures that provides passage over obstacles such as valleys, rough terrain or water by spanning those obstacles with natural or manmade materials. They are built to interchange trades, knowledge, received historical heritage and ethical-social projects that can complement one another and finally humans. They are places to meet and to share and they are a physical sign of connections.
Windows and Bridges is a metaphor for openness and connection in this exhibition which took place in Minsk Belarus in November 2022. The idea was born one year ago when Khristina Vysotskaja and Manuel Wandl, both are teaching at art universities in their countries, came together for an exhibition with other artist in Belarus. Both thought that it would be great to connect the next generations of young artists of their countries. The topic was quickly clear. Belarus and Austria are not that far apart. But there is a big distance between art and society. The young artists should work with this tension of coming together when you could not because of a missing bridge. The exposition presented 23 art works by 19 authors, made in traditional, author's and experimental textile and mixed techniques.
Twelve belarusian artists Tatiana Sokhova, Margarita Shchitnikova, Maria Vavulova, Maria Gopienko, Nastassia Lagutenko, Alieksandra Narkevich, Anastasiya Silchanka, Veronika Grintsevich, Yuliya Hapanovich, Milana Malafey, Karina Paprotskaya and Khristina Vysotskaya presented three-dimensional textile art objects and fiber art installations. Answering to the current topic “windows and bridges” young artists were more concentrated on the ideas of parallel realities, windows as the way to escape to dreams and another world, windows as reflection of the ideas of homeland and family roots, bridges that connect the past and the future, fragility of bridges that connects soul mates, common minds and ideas, and other topics.
Seven austrian artisan textiles were shown. Sebastien Robinson, Caterina Egenhöfer, Regina Karoutcherou, Anna Reichsfeld, Eve Sarge, Nina Wandruszka and Manuel Wandl showed different contemporary woven artworks. Varied techniques with different materials opened up current topics. Questions of living in a digital world, forgetting old handcrafts, contrasts of material or a philosophical exploration - where will be our society in future, were the main topics of the young artists.
One of the main installations at the exhibition was Austrian-Belarusian “Bridge” by Manuel Wands and Khristina Vysotskaya, which symbolized the cultural and artistic connection in hard unstable times. Each artist created a conceptual woven textile art piece which became the left and the wright part of the bridge. Its bamboo construction was designed by Manuel Wands in Austria and crafted by Igor Vysotsky in Minsk. The composition was completed by an audio installation of the sound of a heddle loom in the process of work.
In these days to make an international exhibition in Belarus is not easy. There are not directly flights from the EU to Minsk, and on the border the control is intense. With a lot of help of many people around it was finally possible to make it real. In the opening event, artists of Belarus were connected with the artists of Austria via digital media.
The exhibition built up a symbolic bridge of two worlds and opened up a window for visitors to see other cultures and meanings.
By Khristina Vysotskaya and Manuel Wandl 2022
Pictures for the report:
Photo by Darya Soloninko 2022
The Bridge (2022), Kristina Vysotskaya & Manuel Wandl, 400 x 100 x 200cm, Material: cyanotype on cotton, paper, cotton and Nylon – Bamboo and steel
Limit of Feelings (2022), Alieksandra Narkevich, 48 x 52 x 15cm, Material: wire, wood, acrylic paint
Weaving in Space (2021), Nina Wandruska, 30 x 30 x 150 cm, Material: Cotton crochet yarn white, braided cord with core black, plywood
encrypted_material (2022), Sebastien Robinson, 110 x 110 cm
Window (2022), Maria Goienko, 105 x 48 x 20cm, Material: wood, acrylic