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Forrer tapestry
Forrer red tapestry

Christina Forrer, Untitled (brown background), 2018. Cotton, wool, linen, silk and watercolor, 123 x 88 inches. 

In medieval Europe, tapestries were hung in castle rooms to keep out drafts and cold. Richly decorated with religious scenes or myths, these woven lengths of cloth provided the household occupants, even those who were illiterate, pictorial stories that engaged and enlightened. Swiss-born artist Christina Forrer continues this tradition, weaving textiles that ponder which narratives might best be contemplated by present-day viewers. Eight of the artist's tapestries, for which she is primarily known, along with two works on paper, are exhibited at Luhring Augustine in a show writhing with wide-eyed characters, placed alone or within complicated systems of relationships. Building row upon row of thread, Forrer probes the anxiety of isolation and the conflict of interconnectedness in work that is at once timeless and contemporary.

In Pink Bubble (2018), a woman stands in profile against a background of densely saturated bands of color. A scarlet tear falls from the corner of her eye and a nebulous form pours from her open mouth and rises in front of her face: a speech bubble, which crowds the composition and obscures the woman's face to whomever she is speaking. The bubble is void of text; the only way to "read" it is through its color—a bright rose-madder which is sometimes referred to as "Barbie pink," a color once relegated only to girls' items. I know that color, and I know this story: Here is someone speaking with urgency, but that pink bubble—her gender—eclipses her face and renders her message unintelligible. Forrer chooses thick yarns full of nubs and variations in color, and the tightness of her weaving gives a sense of weight to the final creation, the warp and weft forming a length of warm and comforting fabric, a blanket that would survive many generations of use. In Pink Bubble, this durability casts the struggle of women trying to be heard as both timeless and ongoing.

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