Soft power
Curated by Daniel Milnes
DAS MINSK Kunsthaus in Postdam, Potsdam
3 March – 8 November 2024

In the spring, the MINSK Kunsthaus in Potsdam is showing the group exhibition Soft Power , which presents textile design as an artistic means of expression with which power relations can be questioned. The exhibition sees textiles not only as handcrafted or industrially manufactured objects, but also as part of systems. This includes the production and trade networks that move textiles and people across the globe, as well as the histories, cartographies and cosmologies that unfold around them. Their use as an integral part of our daily routines and special rituals is also examined. The exhibition is divided into three interwoven chapters.

The chapter “Invisible Hands” focuses on the production conditions of textiles and their raw materials – using the history of the Leipzig cotton spinning mill and VEB Vowetex in Plauen as examples. The works in the chapter “Breaking Patterns” refuse to conform to formal specifications and show how textile art can question social norms and power mechanisms by breaking through the seemingly endless repetitions of a fixed order. The chapter “Threads of the Ancestors” explores how textiles are used to commemorate those who have gone before us, whether direct ancestors or those whose histories and ways of life influence our own realities. Just as individual threads can connect to form weaves and larger networks, the historical and contemporary works in this chapter draw on past traditions that continue to resonate today.

Soft Power shows works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Caroline Achaintre, Wilder Alison, El Anatsui, Leonor Antunes, Ouassila Arras, Rufina Bazlova, Kevin Beasley, Mariana Chkonia, Edith Dekyndt, Claus Dobberke, Toni Ebel, Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers (Ella Mae Irby, Candis Mosely Pettway, Qunnie Pettway), Philipp Gufler, William Kentridge, Maria Lai, Joanna Louca, Manuel Mathieu, Rosemary Mayer, Elrid Metzkes, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Sandra Mujinga, Gulnur Mukazhanova, Otobong Nkanga, Willem de Rooij, Ramona Schacht, Gabriele Stötzer, Sung Tieu, Rosemarie Trockel, Johanna Unzueta, Hamid Zénati and others.

In addition, a selection of tapestries and archival material is dedicated to the history of the Potsdam Circle for Artistic Textile Design and its position in the GDR’s state-sponsored leisure program, the so-called “artistic folk creation.”

The exhibition is curated by Daniel Milnes, who has been working as a curator at MINSK since June 2023.

Photo by  Ladislav Zajac