Small forms of life of objects, small new forms of life

Text by Carmelo Marabello

“Dass die Natur ergänzt das Bild der Zeiten.”
F. Hölderlin

By following in the footsteps of textile and doll production, this work weaves together the small forms of life that objects possess with the related and creative forms of life that border on both languages and practices. The Neue Serie Handdruck collection illustrates the craft of working manually, using many different hands to invent patterns for textiles, kitchen tools, cushions and dolls. Reweaving this history of the work and the workers, attitudes and symbols, recalls the cultural memory of 1970s South Tyrol, Italy. This tells the story of a late – yet conscious and complex – version of Arts and Crafts, a collective’s political-creative gesture and the outcome of several different skills. The history of these textiles and objects brings together graphic design practices, alphabets of shapes, fragments of rural life, artistic memories as well as an aesthetic and objective reinvention of symbols. Partly inspired by local rock-carving, these symbols follow the trace of somebody else’s hands and thus allow us to gaze into the past. Through a small, yet dense, ethnographic practice this memory is reshaped and becomes a process, a testimony, an analysis which, at this point, becomes a series of dolls.

The Neue Serie Handdruck collection retraces, literally, the story of the production of material culture. The story of a family of sheepshearers and hand-weavers. The story of textile printing. The story of Otto Von Aufschnaiter and his Peruvian wife Carmen, an illustrator, and their self-built screen printing workshop. Two systems of signs and shapes – an alphabet of gestures, an alphabet of communication, the outlines of Erna Hitzberger’s didactic practice in Berlin and Essen, and the artistic practice of Anna Wielander Platzgummer. Both the systems of signs, and both the authors, make reference to nature, to its way of communicating and to our constant need to reinvent it. However, the Neue Serie Handdruck collection brings new life to dolls and fabrics by re-enacting the experience of 70’s design, thus allowing us to envision the life of the original objects, revealing how they may have survived, which stories deserve to be discovered, and the destiny of both the dolls and their owners.

Objects form both good and bad relationships, but hopefully – for the most part – good. A design, a good design, points to an object’s possible future relationships and experiences, pointing to its potential biography and to those who can make good use of it.

The Neue Serie Handdruck collection is an occasion for the authors’ ethnographic memories, and an occasion for the ethnographic memories and public life of signs and objects. To quote Hölderlin‘s epigraph, cultural memory integrates, however slightly, the fleeting image of time. Since this weakness is a part of us – the life of objects, their biography, the life of those who produce and invent them, as well as those who enable the object to have a place in this world by trading it – this image of time deserves an ethnography. Such is the necessity of memory within objects and in the things that restore life and practices in us all. Design is tied to the context of experience, indeed to the origin, but above all to the outcome of experience itself. At least in this case.

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