On the occasion of her third solo exhibition at Galerie Barbara Wien, Ingrid Wiener (* 1942) shows new tapestries alongside the expansive installation Norden (North, 2010–2012), which is inspired by the life of American polar explorer Lincoln Ellsworth (1880–1951) as well as Wiener's own travels in Canada and Alaska. In 1984 she and her husband Oswald Wiener moved from Berlin to Dawson City, Yukon. They opened CLAIMS CAFÉ and for a few years also ran WHITEHOUSE CABINS–an apartment hotel mainly aimed at gold diggers.
Wiener's first show at Galerie Barbara Wien took place in 2003 and focused on her early tapestries, which she created with VALIE EXPORT, and her collaborative works with Dieter Roth. Between 1974 and 1997, Wiener and Roth jointly developed five large gobelins and installations. The fantastic outcome of this project, in which both artists functioned as authors and providers of ideas, renewed the outlook on tapestry within contemporary art.
In the catalogue for her 2007 show at Kirchner Museum in Davos, Wiener states: 'I wanted to make something new out of this old-fashioned art form, since 'anyone can paint'. Dieter Roth seemed to be the right person to help me with this project. After all, 'two women weaving tapestries' would have been a hopeless undertaking in 1974. ["¦] Together, we created–I hope–something new from this art form. That technique, somewhat simplified, was maintained but the perspective changed and, most importantly, there was a break with the tradition of the weaver as an executor of visual material that has already been designed.' Roth's and Wiener's idea was: 'You can also weave what you do not see'. The plan came to fruition and the works are now part of international collections, i.e. of the Kuntshaus Zurich and the MoMA NewYork.
2008 saw Wiener's second show at Galerie Barbara Wien: Bedingte Wahrscheinlichkeit (Conditional Probability). It revolved around the tapestry First Steps on the Way to Bayes (2007), in which Ingrid Wiener deals with the term of probability according to the mathematician and priest Thomas Bayes (1702–1761). It is an attempt to understand Bayes' theorem of conditional probability. The complex problem is portrayed on the basis of a discarded note that she reproduced through weaving.
This method of working–picking up seemingly insignificant things, discarded memos, drawings and grocery lists as well as objects like spectacles or butter knives and translating them into weaving–is characteristic of Wiener's tapestries. It seems that she wants to look at the things that are subsequently being woven at a different speed in order to comprehend them better. Oliver Koerner von Gustorf writes: 'In fact the weaving of the tapestry appears as a constant scanning and processing of images, relationships and memories, which literally become interwoven. The dauntlessness and modesty with which Wiener approaches this Sysiphean task is unsurpassable in its radicality.'
In 2019 Galerie Barbara Wien continues its journey with Ingrid Wiener. We are showing new tapestries such as Schnalle (Buckle, 2019), Fahrplan nach Wien (Train Schedule for Vienna, 2018) and Jaquardbindung (Jaquard Binding, 2019). The template for Schnalle is a small sketch displaying the mechanism of a belt buckle, the one for the train schedule a note containing times for departure and arrival, and Jaquardbindung goes back to a drawing Wiener made in the 1950s when training as a textile designer. Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752–1834) was a French inventor who gained fame by further developing the automatic loom. In 1805 he constructed a loom that could be used to automatically weave the most complex patterns by using a punch card based control system. Wiener revisits the subject matter of her studies from the 1950s and turns the notes she made about weaving technology into weaves; she continues to go even further in the 'scanning of images and relationships'.
The large installation Norden (North, 2010–2012)–which consists of 12 tapestries as well as photographs, watercolour drawings, digital prints and a leather shirt that belonged to Lincoln Ellsworth–is the second part of the current exhibition. In this piece, Wiener interweaves her own travels and adventures with those of polar explorer Ellsworth, who was the first to cross the North Pole by plane in 1926 together with Roald Amundsen. When one day a friend of Wiener's gave her Ellsworth's shirt as a gift, she started reading his books and found out that when she was travelling in Alaska, she went to the same places Ellsworth had been to. She started to translate these 'coincidences'–the intersection of her own experience with that of the explorer–into her visual language and created a room that encompassed all source material and the tapestries.
Ingrid Wiener, born 1941 (Vienna, Austria) lives and works in Styria, Austria.
2007 a publication of her collaborative Works with Dieter Roth, The Tapestries of Dieter Roth and Ingrid Wiener, is released by Kerber Verlag, edited by Karin Schick.
Since 1998 Wiener investigates dream images. Her ongoing series of dream images (watercolour and pencil) is partly published in: 2001 Träume / Sogni, Edizione Morra, Naples 2006 Ingrid Wiener / Träume, Walther König, Cologne
2019 Hanser Verlag published the biographical book Ingrid Wiener and the art of liberation by Carolin Würfel.
Press release courtesy Barbara Wien.