Heavy Satin

at LAST TANGO, Zurich

group exhibition with Roman Gysin and Manon Wertenbroek



I Am Healer, 2019 and ANTI me, ANTI you, 2020

Old Witch, 2019

Young Witch, 2019

Photos: Kilian Bannwart

Courtesy of Last Tango

Heavy Satin


Lisa Biedlingmaier‘s sculptural installations are part of her recent series I am Healer (2019-20) and are composed of steely structures, warming macramés and remedying textiles and objects. Her practice gravitates toward traditional handicraft and is informed by a wide-ranging milieu of feminist writings and healing practices. The history of macramé goes back to the Babylonians and Assyrians who used macramé-style knots as decoration. It seems that the word macramé is derived from the Arabic miqramah, believed to mean „ornamental fringe“ or „embroidered veil.“ This notion of unveiling is explored a process of thinking and doing, passive and active dynamism, receiving and giving. The artist notes how each pattern “illustrates the connections and correlations that are made, that are formed and made manifest. (...) I therefore assign a broad spectrum of meaning to my macramé nodes. Sometimes they stand for tensions and trigger points, sometimes for traces, memories, opinions, concepts–on a physical, mental and spiritual level. Everything that forms and influences our existence.”

Upstairs are two sculptures depicting the figure of the witch. She notes: “These witches represent the repressed female energy in our collective unconsciousness. They stand for the widespread violence towards women through history, and we all carry them around in our emotional, mental and physical bodies.”

In Young Witch (2018) needles pinch through fleshy tan colored ropes. They may hint at acupuncture or the BDSM practices of piercing play. In 1792 Anna Goeldi from the Canton of Glarus and often nick- named “the last witch” was falsely accused of have of putting needles, through supernatural means, in children‘s food. A stylized and fragmented body Young Witch alludes to rebellion and sexual liberation. She “carries” a black cross-body pouch tied with safety pins. It is labeled with the words “Body Building” with the typeface “Heavy Metal.” She is an emancipated punk fighting entrenched social norms. She also “carries” a bundle of black ropes, whose (heavy) weight is both a physical but also a symbolic shouldering. She carries the symbolic burden of responsibility for the historical and current threat that women face: the witch hunt (Federici). Mirroring the 16th- and 17th-century Europe witch hunts, Federici argues that the world is currently witnessing a new surge of violence against women. Similar to the dawn of capitalism, this new wave of violence against women is occurring alongside a new expansion of capitalism.

Biedlingmaier’s Old Witch (2018) seems to relate to Carol Hanish‘s 1969 paper “The personal is the political” or what Rozsika Parker defines as “the subversive stitch,” that is a reactionary stance toward a conservative anti-woman line. The sculpture contains a macramé illustrating the female reproductive system that is slightly de-centered and partially covered by a floral cloth. With this non alignment, the artist is interested in the historical and materialistic analysis of female’s subjugation, reminding us of how the female reproductive system has become detached from female control and rather gover- ned by capitalist interest. Stones and other objet-trouvé are weaved and encapsulated in cocoon-like vessels in this towering yet delicate figure. There seems to be a resonance with Frederici‘s stance on womanhood: “Since the beginning of capitalism, women have fought to change what it means to be a woman. (...) I don‘t want to give up the category ‘woman.’ It is not a biological category, it‘s a socio political and historical category. If you cannot name your condition, then you can’t make certain kinds of struggle. When I think of ‘woman’ I place myself in a history and in particular forms of struggle that women across the world are continuing to this day.” (Silvia Federici in Mask Magazine, 2015)


Arianna Gellini and Linda Jensen