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disestablish, 2012, Installation, Pavillon Lucca

disestablish, Installation

Pavillon, Lucca, 2012



During the Middle Ages in Europe, the city of Lucca in Tuscany was the most important center for the silk industry. Textile companies from Lucca were among the largest corporations in the region. Not only did the local organizations of production and labour function alongside principles in the modern capitalist sense, most of the family-owned companies were also active both in the textile sector and in international banking activities. At the same time, it was in the Tuscany region that workers’ revolts took place, who, for the first time in world history, managed to have their demands documented in written form.


The paintings, paperworks, and objects on display in the three exhibition spaces of Pavillon analyze the close relationship between textile production and banking business. Using imagery, gestures and thoughts of the time to look for power struggles, the works suggest moments of how emancipation takes form.


Long, white cotton pieces (disestablish, 2012) are silk-screen-printed with the imagery of a violent animal world, isolated from Lucchese silk ornaments from the 14th century. Presented as if hanging to dry in a workshop, they suggest production by the meter, while printing mistakes in the patterns refer to the context of non-industrial artistic production they stem from.


The sculpture arm, 2012, is assembled from three pieces of flat steel, held together silk thread. It connects with the painted piece banner (2012) in the space next door, functioning as an improvised pole to hold a possible flag of the protesters and provisionally raised between floor and ceiling. In historical documents, the workers are reported to having gathered and raised their banners, an articulation of presence that caused fear in the employers’ circles. At the same time, the sculpture shows what can be made by means that are 'at hand’. The only tool that the workers had were their own hands, so the popular practice of cutting off hands was a detrimental punishment to inobedient employees.


In 843 – (2012), a piece of steel-fabric carries an image of people in the act of measuring, selling and buying textiles. They face a wall showing the shreds of medieval silks photocopied on paper, their warp and woof threads become the workers’ demands of the time, such as the disestablishment of the supervisor, true political representation, and a cancellation of all debts. The title of the work refers to a common deficit in a Lucchese craftman’s tax return.


The works were produced for the show disestablish at Pavillon Social, Lucca, may-july 2012.


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