Karin Ruggaber

Karin Rugaber

In all honesty, I had ever heard of this artist before today. But i was really fascinated by her pieces and what they were supposed to mean. I couldn’t really find inspiration about her really, but the Tate had some interesting thins to say about her;

‘Karin Ruggaber makes sculptural objects that convey a physical sense of something seen or experienced, rather than representing it. The wall-based pieces, made and brought together for this Art Now exhibition include tile-like shapes she has produced using deliberately unpredictable casting processes that mix dissonant elements such as cement, plaster and fabric. She then configures these densely worked layers of materials, textures and colour tones into small groups that emphasise the tactile quality of the individual elements. Made primarily from man-made materials, these constructed reliefs allude to cartoonish and geometric shapes, but stay just outside of representational forms. In other works artificial and natural fabrics are pinned or sewn together to create a complex collage of shapes, suggestive of the tailored elements associated with details of clothing. The pieces are reminiscent of the strange density of tapestry or medieval coats of arms where disparate elements are pushed up against each other, competing in a confined space. By placing these varied works in close (and at times awkward) proximity to each other and working with the full height of the gallery space, the act of display is emphasised and becomes a focus within this exhibition.

Architecture, or more generally the organised urban environment, is a consistent source of reference for Ruggaber, in particular she is drawn to the tactile quality of surfaces and the exterior fronts of buildings. She states: ‘The relief pieces come from an interest in facades, erosion, and incongruity of surface. They contain a sense of this physicality. The façade is both an actual and a representational skin, in that its materiality speaks about the status of a building or content of it, as well as structurally holds together and differentiates between inside and outside.’ 1 The concrete surfaces of the reliefs are corrupted and destabilised by the supposedly casual introduction of a swatch of tweed or a cutting of nylon. These additions of colour and texture investigate the ornamental – albeit a rough and unfinished sense of the decorative. The process of making these pieces is a deliberate relinquishing of control. They are built up through juxtaposing something hard against something soft, something heavy against something light, light against dark and bright against sombre.

In selecting her fabric, Ruggaber is looking for what she describes as different ‘dynamics’ or ‘speeds’ of fabric – heavy, traditional tweeds or lodens are contrasted with thin nylons and acrylics, or airtex fabrics. These are fabrics designed to be breathable, sporty, lightweight, and they often have a functional purpose, outside of fashion. Previous works by the artist took on the form of bags that were made up of elaborate, entangled straps and handles, but sat on the borderlines of functionality.

Ruggaber is also intrigued by the techniques and language of tailoring – the detailing on a man’s shirt, a collar shape, or how it sits upon a shoulder; describing a body or posture – ‘the way certain fabrics fall, sit, move’. She is interested in: ‘fabric as a physical structure and what it represents through subtle detail …each fabric describes and carries with it a tradition through material, colour, shade, sheen, tone…’. Just as her concrete reliefs denote the physicality of architectural surfaces that in turn are indicative of a building’s content or status, so her fabric pieces abstractly allude to the body and its activities through the material rather than in form. These fragments of sewn and pinned cloth are assembled and organised on the same plane, making them appear both two and three-dimensional.

The title of the show From hard to soft, suggests, perhaps playfully, a system for ordering the display of these objects and indicates a spectrum of different consistencies, states or viewpoints. Ruggaber often selects titles that have ‘a contrast and energy within them or are slightly provocative or almost kitsch …(they) take on a role within the show, almost like a material, acting like a framing device by simply introducing another element or image within it’. Ruggaber also makes artist’s publications and a new edition, bearing the same name, is being published at the same time as this exhibition. As with the objects, the material presence of the books is integral to the artist’s practice, she often selects different weights, types of printing and textures of paper. The images used in these books, such as in the recent Istanbul buildings and materials, 2005, explore similar preoccupations to the sculptural pieces – that of colour texture or how light hits a surface – so that each body of work parallels and informs the other.

These images, which at times have become part of an exhibition, are taken primarily to record and document details, places or a feel of a situation. They can either be solarised or too dark, or awkwardly off-centre, deliberately disregarding aesthetic decisions or even basic rules of photography, as Ruggaber explains: ‘I like taking images against the sun, some images are dark, under- or overexposed, reflections – this disturbs or interrupts the image in some way, distances it’. The pictures, such as the restaurant scene depicted in this leaflet, often contain different layers, patterns, contrasts of light and shade, blocks of colour, reflections and contrasting viewpoints. In this scene, the act of recording the image is itself recorded and becomes part of the image. Her photographs reveal a particularly visual language that resonates across all of Ruggaber’s work, and that is ultimately resistant to verbal translation.

All quotations are taken directly from the artist

I personally think that this passage and her work will definitely inspire me while  am doin my work.


About cerysjames

A 19 year old Textile Design student studying in Cardiff! I decided to start up a blog as a diary for all things textile! Mostly inspiration and exhibitions I've been too. My favourite things are printing and having a big imagination!

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