Vienna Exhibit: Penelope’s Labor

This installation will feature work by a wonderful artist I had the privilege of meeting last year, Azra Aksamija (

Penelope’s Labour — Weaving Words and Images

Weavings from the collection of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini Collection shown alongside new woven works by: Azra Akšamija, Lara Baladi, Manuel Franquelo, Carlos Garaicoa, Grayson Perry and Marc Quinn.

Exhibition by Fondazione Giorgio Cini and Factum Arte. Curated by Adam Lowe

Tapestry is the great example of image and word transformed by the materiality of its medium. For centuries, it was valued above paintings, its precious gold, silver and silk thread combining with the intensive labor and intricate collaborative creation of the woven image bewitching the elite from east to west. The woven image told fabulous, discontinuous stories in a language that was unique to itself, which created unique images that integrate color and material fabric in a way that surpassed painting, drawing and sculpture. Its overwhelming visual power was only discernible in its presence, and has since been diminished by reproductions in books and poor conservation which has left many surviving examples a pale shadow of their original, glittering aura. With the rise of painting and the development of technological innovations in weaving in the seventeenth century, tapestry began to imitate painting, leading to its long decline and marginalization into a craft tradition. But in recent years, with the development of digital technology and the emphasis on the ways in which images and words are transformed and mediated from the ephemeral to the material, artists have returned to tapestry as a medium which asks what is physically possible in the creation of a sensuous art object. This exhibition unites Vittorio Cini’s fascination with the manual production of tapestry with contemporary art and the renewed ability of artists to use the medium to tell a range of powerful and compelling stories that address the warp and weft of our contemporary realities. Drawing on late fifteenth-century tapestries depicting the sack of Jerusalem, to Azra Akšamija’s woven collective testimony of the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia-Herzegovina via Grayson Perry’s vast allegory of contemporary life the ‘Walthamstow Tapestry’ and Marc Quinn’s flowers of our manipulated natural world, this exhibition will put the woven image back at the heart of contemporary artistic practice.