Needles, Art and Reality

by Dieter Brunner, Städtische Museen Heilbronn

© 1997 Dieter Brunner
from: Needleworks I, Katalog Patricia Waller, Heilbronn 1997


Hardly any other material - even in comparison with ceramics and glass - has been so consistently neglected in the art world as wool. Woolen forms woven by hand have never been a subject of interest and were long considered unsuitable. To crochet is not only an act of aggression on art but it is also an almost paradoxical endeavor in an era of mass production. Textile works these days are more of an idyllic reminiscence; handicrafts are usually only made as gifts for friends and relatives or as surplus articles for charitable Christmas bazaars.

Patricia Waller consciously uses these materials and techniques as a "nice" albeit radical provocation. Her art objects contain elements of art and reality, past and present, memories of an idyllic and protected world. They tell us about the petty bourgeoise and the taboos of our times, and much more. In friendly tones Patricia Waller describes modern perversions and demons. Satire, however, is not the aim of her art - at best it is an introduction. At first glance the objects have lost their edge, softened by the careful touch of the hand. Their hardness returns, however, at the latest when the viewer perceives the contents: the victorian atmosphere quickly becomes stifling inhibition.

It has long been a tradition in art to approach reality ever closer and to grapple with it; similarly the "ready-made" stands for the essence of this artistic concept, freed from everything artificial. Patricia Waller's ready-mades are always disorienting even tough this feeling first arises upon a second glance. Such disorientation serves as a strategy of visual attack, an act of destruction and desecration. Waller thereby advances the dadaistic principle to dethrone something as soon as it has been established. And she pays no regard to her dada "fathers" in doing so.