Soft pink silicon sacks, linked together with hairy cords, squirm subtly. The movement intensifies, when one comes closer. Awkward feelings arise when you see this work by Bart Hess. It is an intense physical experience, that comes with a little discomfort, but at the same time fascinates immensely. Bart Hess is one of the artists that got commissioned by the TextielMuseum to develop new work. All works are balancing between attraction and repulsion. They seduce you to watch, but also evoke some mixed feelings. The commission policy of the TextielMuseum offers artists and designers the chance to do research and experiment. The results are shown in the exhibition ‘Fringes of Beauty’. This exhibition contains textile installations and interactive sculptures by Heringa/Van Kalsbeek, Bart Hess, Nan Groot Antink, Tanja Smeets and Karin van Dam. The works are all made in the TextielLab, the innovative in-house workplace of the TextielMuseum.
Heringa/Van Kalsbeek (1966/1962) are known for their expressive, colourful sculptures, that have a strong physical presence. For their work at the TextielLab, the artists were inspired by their ethnographic collection and natural phenomena. Their monumental, playful sculpture ‘Armor’ consists of a metal construction, decorated with laser-cutted, resin coated wings of canvas, bright red pompons and multi-coloured tins. The image is derived from the largely decorated head ornaments of traditional Chinese brides. ‘Armor’ is appealing at first sight, but its back appears ‘raw and imperfect’. This tension, between front and back, between attraction and repulsion, is a main theme in the work of Heringa/Van Kalsbeek.
The installations by artist Tanja Smeets (1963) seem to grow along walls and ceilings. The modest white, and sometimes brightly coloured structures, remind you of moulds and mushrooms. Tanja Smeets discovered the possibilities of the laser- and knitting techniques at the TextielLab. With both techniques, she realised her installation ‘Nebula and the Soft Machine’. From industrial felt she cut irregular basic forms, from very small to a larger scale. The elements intertwine and crawl their way up. In the middle, the material seems to explode like a dust-cloud (‘Nebula’). The knitted part of the installation, ‘Soft Machine’, reminds you of a plant, with buds that diffuse randomly. The work leaves the impression it could develop into an infinite landscape.