Genealogy of Damnatio Memoriae, Palermo 1947-1992, 2011, hand-embroidered linen fabric 250 x 320 cm
Curtains is a show of art works which are grouped together by nature of their material or with a nod to everyday, domestic living. Curtains are an unveiling, a beginning, just before, just after, the barrier between interior and exterior, between private and public; an end. Where and when does the artwork commence and functionality stop?
Both the Curtain (c.1957) and Blouse (c.1960) of Danish artist Aase Seidler Gernes (b.1927) came from her production of textiles, embroidery and garments which were made and sold to use and wear respectively in ’50s and ’60s in Denmark. At a distance of nearly sixty years, and for the first time in the United States, these once-usable objects are circulating again as her work is visited in an exhibition context along with a remarkable series of new drawings, which echo some shapes found in the former fabric productions.
The vast artistic career of her husband Poul Gernes (b.1925 – d.1996) might be considered through his dedication to bridging a gap between art and life through his numerous public works, painterly productions, sculptures and films. Rather different than his iconic colorful environments and geometric paintings, Gernes’s milk cartons (c.1978) liberate the hidden forms from their encasing and transform them into sculptures in contrast to the colorful bean bags (2005) of New York-based, Italian artist Francesco Simeti (b.1968), which play with the images printed on pesticide packaging. Enlarging and transforming the packaging, Simeti’s bean bags distract by way of their inviting, aesthetic appeal – we look and sit on them without considering the menacing message they carry.
Goldschmied & Chiari’s (Sara Goldschmied b.1975 & Eleonora Chiari b.1971) Genealogy of Damnatio Memoriae, 1947-1992, Palermo, is a hand-embroidered tablecloth showing a genealogical tree, in which family names have been replaced by those of the victims, dates, and places of murders carried out in Palermo by the Mafia. The quotidian quality of a tablecloth leaves the violent history out for daily reflection. (That’s curtains for you.)
– Sarra Brill