Knitwear

knitted houses M 1:100
wool over metal framework
suspended 10cm above the ground fixed on the ceiling
edition of 3 each

World Trade Center
415/417x64x64 cm

 

I was able to follow Annette Streyl developing her knitted architecture since about 1999. She began with representative structures, political or economic centres of power. Examples are the Reichstag building or the Palace of the Republic in Berlin, Germany as well as the BMW Headquarters in Munich, Germany. She recreated those on a scale of 1:100 using wool as a medium. The artistic disassociation can be seen on two levels: on the one hand through the diminution of the architectural original, restoring the building to the size of a model thus disabling the viewer’s awe-struck upward glance. On the other hand by the choice of material, divesting the building of its stability. The knitted buildings deflate, the body is hollow, and the original construction is solely cited through its outer shape. In some of her presentations, Streyl puts this outer skin over a steel framework, giving the depicted building back its sturdy shape. However, their character is especially emphasised when the artist hangs those soft, knitted buildings over tight strings like a clothesline. The solid walls of those representative buildings are transformed into a material undermining the original’s character completely.

With the transformation of a specific object into a “foreign” material, Streyl draws on a surrealistic method while simultaneously referring to Claes Oldenburg’s Soft Sculptures. Furthermore, the artist picks up on the traditional female stereotype of activities like knitting and washing, giving credit to Rosemarie Trockel. This approach ironically contrasts the depicted subject, which still represents mostly male power structures. Through this strategy, Annette Streyl not only strips those buildings of their monumentality and durability but also poses the question of the distribution of power.

Excerpt from Christoph Heinrich

Fernsehturm Berlin, Detail
368x36x36 cm

Reichstag Berlin
55x130x86 cm

Palast der Republik Berlin
32x88x180 cm

Great Hall Berlin
2003-2006, scale 1:100, wool and metal framework, 318x450x400 cm; This unrealized building was part of the GERMANIA masterplan for Berlin devised by Albert Speer and Hitler in 1936 and was the biggest meeting hall ever planned.

Installation view KEHRAUS in Kunsthaus Hamburg

Installation view KEHRAUS in Kunsthaus Hamburg

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© copyright: Annette Streyl 2016