The exhibition et al. by Tenant of Culture at Kunstverein Dresden explores the origins, meaning, and potential of the workshop as a physical and social space. Historically, the workshop was the main site of production before the industrial revolution accelerated and decentralized production processes with the expansion of factories. Workshops were often situated in the domestic space; the production of textiles and garments especially took place around the house and was done mostly by women. Various techniques—from spinning wool and weaving to pattern cutting, stitching and decorating—found their place in these home workshops.
Today, the processes of production have been largely compartmentalized and outsourced to a global network of manufacturers. A complex system of unequal power structures has emerged, supported by trade exemptions and other state-sanctioned accords. The consumption of mass-produced goods seems to flow smoothly, but it requires extensive natural resources and workforce capacity, producing vast amounts of waste. These processes are messy, dirty, and often present ethical concerns. Yet, they leave no traces on the surfaces of the objects that result, from clothing to everything else.
The deconstruction and reconstruction of garments present comprehensible approaches for tracing these manufacturing and distribution processes and making them visible. In her exhibition et al., Tenant of Culture systematically combines elements that are usually kept separate: the production and the presentation of art, as well as the spheres where artists and the public operate. With this in mind, Tenant of Culture employs a modular display that is both a functional structure for workshops and a spatial intervention. Movable clothing rails, tables, and the torsos of discarded mannequins are sculptural gestures as well as practical resources for draping and manipulating textiles.
The exhibition is experienced in several, equally important, stages, which stem from Kunstverein Dresden’s specific spatial and social environments. It begins with the installation: the exhibition display as a formal and practical starting point, a kind of infrastructure on standby, which is accompanied by an open call asking for clothing to be donated. The donated, discarded garments become the material for recycling processes undertaken during a workshop series with local audiences, who question the object’s original use and definition through their reinterpretation, fundamentally challenging cycles of value attribution and devaluation. At the same time, this collaborative stage bears witness to a general longing for contact and dialogue, which have been limited due to the pandemic. The results of the workshops are then incorporated into the exhibition as a core element, complicating questions of artistic authorship. After this phase of presenting and sharing a final chapter of dispersal follows, in which all objects created will be distributed locally, given away, repurposed, or returned, marking the formal end of the exhibition. However, the people, relationships, and objects involved will continue to circulate in different meaning and commodity contexts.
Tenant of Culture is the artistic practice of Hendrickje Schimmel (*1990 Arnhem, the Netherlands, based in London). After receiving her B. A. in fashion design from the ArtEZ School of the Arts Arnhem and a M. A. in textiles from the Royal College of Art London, Tenant of Culture realized solo shows at Sophie Tappeiner (Vienna, 2021), Fons Welter (Amsterdam), Fries Museum (Leeuwarden), and Soft Opening (London; all 2020) as well as clearview.ltd (London, 2017). Tenant of Culture recently received the Camden Arts Centre Emerging Art Prize that is combined with a solo exhibition at the institution in 2022.
Curator: Nele Kaczmarek
Funded by Mondriaan Fund, Kulturstiftung des Freistaats Sachsen, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Landeshauptstadt Dresden, Amt für Kultur und Denkmalschutz, as well as Stiftung Kunstfonds and the federal funding programme 20/21 NEUSTART KULTUR . Disclaimer: Diese Maßnahme wird mitfinanziert durch Steuermittel auf der Grundlage des vom Sächsischen Landtag beschlossenen Haushaltes.
Kindly supported by Nähwerkstatt of Konglomerat e. V.