Photo reportage from the exhibition ‘Save As’ at Temnikova & Kasela Gallery

Save_As_exhibition_poster_by_Jan_Tomson“Save As” is an exhibition of experimental textiles by Kärt Ojavee and Johanna Ulfsak.

A large fabric hanging in the middle of the gallery splits the space in a diagonal line. The asymmetrical arrangement nods to a modernist tactic often employed by the early 20th century textile designers like Annie Albers and Liubov Popova.1 The establishment of a relationship between textile art and design and industrial mass production, that was the basis for these women’s practices, is also the starting point for “Save As”. If the birth in the 1920s of ideas about textile design in an industrial age served as one of the axes for the exhibition, then the other one is represented by the choice of materials familiar to a 21st century consumer: PVC, kevlar, glass fibre, optical fibre and carbon fibre. Thus, the exhibition is stretched between these axes in an attempt to think and work through the current realities of textile production.

Choosing the time consuming method of hand weaving on a loom instead of using industrial machines, allowed the artists both a close proximity to the hi-tech industrial materials and a prolonged period of discussion, thinking and experimenting. Thus, the large textile represents both the time (150 hours) and the work (10200 lines) spent. The process, with all of its mistakes, imperfections and idiosyncrasies is “saved as” or saved into the form of the fabric.

Developing the idea of shaping or saving something into a form, the artists continued experimenting with these materials, gradually introducing variations. A seemingly insignificant change in the thickness of a yarn, for example, produced very different results. These variations were then cast into a simple form of a Frisbee, a process of imitating by hand the creation of a mass produced object. Examples of these experiments are displayed in a pile behind the hanging fabric. Illuminated on a wall are also a few Frisbee versions hand painted on yarn. The pictures are meditations on the history of textile production: hands stretching the yarn, workers lined up by machines, a single weaver operating the looms. In these pictures, it is as if the act of weaving has been solidified, or the making of the exhibition has been “saved as” a form.

Ojavee and Ulfsak have presented their previous collaborative project “Live Streams” at HOP Gallery, Tallinn (2016); Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Tallinn Creative Hub (2017); and European Parliament, Brussels (2017). Together they are the co-founders of KO/ JU Creative Textile Studio.

Kärt Ojavee (Ph.D.) is a designer, artist, and lecturer. Her work is focused on future concepts of textiles and (inter)active interior fabrics where technology and soft materials are combined. Her installations have been exhibited at various exhibitions around the globe. Ojavee’s brand KO! is focused on experimental textile based products and unique objects. In 2012 she received a young designer award Säsi. The same year, Ojavee’s and Eszter Ozsvald’s installation “SymbiosisW” won II prize at Be Open awards and was a runner up at the Core77 design awards. Currently, Ojavee is a research fellow at the Estonian Academy of Arts’ Interior Design Department. Ojavee’s recent projects and exhibitions include costumes and set design, in collaboration with Edith Karlson, for “Estonian Games: TÖNK”, a musical performance directed by Peeter Jalakas (2018); group show “Building With Textiles”, Tilburg Textile Museum, Tilburg (2014); group show “Human Play”, Scin Gallery, London (2014); Köler Prize nominees exhibition, EKKM, Tallinn (2014); “UUO: undefined useful objects” solo exhibition, Estonian Design and Applied Art Museum, Tallinn (2012); “SymbiosisO: Voxel” in collaboration with Ester Ozsvald and Alex Dodge, Issey Miyake Tribeca, New York (2012).

Johanna Ulfsak received her postgraduate degree from Designskolen Kolding, Denmark. She participated in a residency programme focused on traditional Japanese weaving and textile design at the Kawashima Textile School in Kyoto, Japan. Ulfsak gained textile design and fashion related work experience in Switzerland, Germany and Estonia. Her conceptual design brand NO FUN is focused on developing limited collections of design objects such as carpets, handmade scarves, couture fabrics, and fashion pieces. Ulfsak enjoys creating fun visual illusions, highlighting unpredictable results, and prompting the viewer to analyse what they are seeing and think about how it was made. Inspired and influenced by outside-of-the-system thinkers such as hobbyists, deaf weavers, elderly club members and Sunday craftsmen, her work aims to bring together poetic, humorous and fragile aspects of life. Ulfsak’s recent exhibitions and projects include “Inquiry & Investigation”, a collaboration with Lolina, Artists Space, New York, and Cafe Oto, London (2018); NO FUN RUGS collection launch, Julice Laverie, Paris (2018); “The Next Great Fashion Designer LA”, a collaboration with Alina Astrova, Overduin & Co., Los Angeles (2016).

Thank you Neeme Külm and Valge Kuup, Revo Koplus, Jan Tomson, Estonian Academy of Arts Textile department, Endel Laurimaa, Ingrid Helena Pajo, Ingel Kutsar, Vivika Sopp, Merilin Kruusel, Jennifer Laan, Tiina Puhkan, Edith Karlson, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Põhjala brewery, Rein Kasela Wine Room, Valmiermuiža brewery.

1 Christina Lodder talks about the concept of ”sdvig” – a shift or dislocation – in ‘Liubov Popova: From Painting to Textile Design’, Tate Papers, no.14, Autumn 2010, https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/14/liubov-popova- from-painting-to-textile-design, accessed 27 August 2018.

Kärt Ojavee & Johanna Ulfsak
“Save As”
31 August – 27 October 2018
Temnikova & Kasela Gallery
Lastekodu 1, 10115 Tallinn

Photography: Temnikova & Kasela Gallery

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Echo Gone Wrong
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September 11, 2018
Published in Photo / Video from Estonia
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