New York gallery Cheim & Read is currently showing Louise Bourgeois’s self-defined “fabric drawings.” On display is 2002 – 2010, in form of appropriated clothing, that is, re-appropriated fabric. Closing on June 25, the exhibition is scissorwork, collage made from the very pieces that are necessary, to conceal to and to live. “The sewing,” Bourgeois wrote, “is my attempt to keep things together and make things whole.”
More images, and story, after the jump…
Wrote Bourgeois, “Clothing is… an exercise of memory.” Reminiscent of the poet Susan Howe’s lace histories in The Midnight, and her recreation of wedding dresses in word fragments in Singularities, Bourgeois takes (and gives her audience) her husband’s handkerchiefs, re-sewn for her own, and for ours. In other words, the exhibition is both a practical implication of theory begging an infinite regress of appropriated identity, and a deeply personal memoir. “The Fabric Works” is always this paradox: the act of remembering reshapes the object of memory. The artist is a rememberer. She gives her audience her memories, which they will reshape, too. The audience as artist. The fabric works (verb), but too “The Fabric Works” is a noun, the show. In confrontation with memory, as it is embodied here in fabric, and all of clothing’s implications of embodiment, imposed identity, and gender role, viewers engage with the conscious investigation of the act of remembering, of art. This is a collection of “little signposts in search of the past,” a past continually changed in the remembering of it, unattainable but always re-created in its signposts.
Louise Bourgeois was born in 1911 in Paris, where she studied at the Sorbonne and under renowned artist Fernand Léger. In 1938, she moved to New York, where she lived until her death last year at the age of 98. Awarded a Golden Lion at the 1999 Venice Biennale, and a National Medal of the Arts in 1997, Bourgeois has been the subject of numerous exhibitions around the world. “The Fabric Works” is a selection from an exhibition curated by Germano Celant, at Venice’s Fondazione Vedova.
- Rivka Fogel