Disestablishing tools

Historical research is no longer a sort of preliminary in the artistic production of the last few decades. Artists cross over into the field of professional historians and borrow their methodologies, their instruments and documents, using them as a medium for further elaboration. This task is not finalized at the individual discipline and its channels (through the production of a report, a text, etc.), but rather opens up to the most diverse modes of interpretation, including, of course, the artistic one.


Even if the artist’s participation in the more ample production of knowledge may overlap with other extra-artistic realms (history, politics, economy, anthropology, etc.) in trans-disciplinary fashion, it still remains internal to the art system itself.


In Judith Raum’s work, historical research connects with artistic processuality, both becoming constituents of a wider, more integral cognitive and productive process.


We are not speaking about an archive collected for the aesthetics of memory, yellowed and nostalgic. We can instead consider it as a sort of counter-research—free, nomadic, rhizomatic, and independent—lying outside the plan of presumed truths of homologated historical constructions. Indeed, the latter, by proclaiming themselves sciences of universal facts, tend not to perceive those particular facts that belong to individual existence as a whole.


The art of weaving, once considered a minor art form, serves as a metaphor for this adventure on the fringes of official disciplines and genres. The fabric–comprised of plants, hairs, vegetable and animal matter, turned into fibers and then into threads–becomes a complex object, not immediately comprehensible to the mind, inextricable like the tangles without a beginning or an end sculpted inside Romanesque churches.


The tactile and sensual experience of a fabric–soft and vulnerable–cannot be easily translated using verbal language. It contrasts control, nobility and duration, the desiderata of systems of power.




Paolo Emilio Antognoli Viti

(the full text is published in the exhibition catalogue Judith Raum: disestablish, Berlin 2012)