26 January 2013 – 2 March 2013
BolteLang, Zurich

Colour and the perception thereof is a unique experience for all of us. When a child is taught what colour the grass is, or the sun, it is given the key to a mutual understanding, which makes up our social paradigm. By stimulating the senses and allowing them to communicate in a harmonious and equal manner, we can begin to build a basis for expressing what seems so obvious, but remains utterly vague. At an early age, we blindly agree with what we are told, but then spend adulthood discovering our own truths. We are obliged to accept some, or find out that others may distort when viewed from a different angle, but colour is a subject one never seems to doubt. It is exactly this discrepancy, between what we take for granted and what we actually see (that is: what might as well be true), that fascinates Dagmar Heppner and leads her to explore the possibilities for experiencing and understanding the social construct that may be linked to it. What one person' s mind may perceive as true, can be a falsity to the other.

For her first solo exhibition at BolteLang, Dagmar Heppner explores these personal truths. She invites us to follow a site-specific trail of fabric, letting the viewer interact with an assemblage of hand-dyed fabrics, sewn together using techniques otherwise applied for garments and interior design/textile decoration – foldings remind of skirts and dresses, or the shirring of curtains. Blending several colours, Heppner creates 12 hues of a different kind, related to the colour circle that Gertrud Grunow used for her lessons in "Harmonisierungslehre" at the Bauhaus in Weimar. The circle is applied to the architecture of the gallery as the coloured fabric twines around a built-in u-shaped wall, crawls through the office, the corridor and the adjacent window and can never be perceived in its entirety. The softness of the textile path creates gentle disturbances in the space, the way it envelops the stark white cube, and almost mimics a stave for the notes of colour to display their song.

Grunow’s theory is a complex mesh of convictions, beliefs and relations likely to collapse when seriously questioned and doubted. It is a very personal construct to understand and deal with the world and its oddities. For Heppner, as opposed to Grunow, it is the subtle lack of harmony that allows for the viewer to ’enter‘ a work as this is where the picture crumbles. Being more interested in the moments when things do not quite come together or lose their function the artist employs useful stitches to unfamiliar colours to clothe a wall, or turns sewing patterns into monsters.

For Fiction, textile is not merely a means to an end, but rather a medium that offers Heppner endless possibilities. From the Latin word ’texere‘, ’to construct‘, fabric stands not only at the core of the site-specific work, but is also the basis for the fascinating dichotomy that the use of fabric presents us with – the constrictions clothing can lay upon us as opposed to the liberty one has when working with it. Her inherent connection with cloth is merely hinted at in the two other works in the exhibition, which show adapted sewing patterns for a dress and a ruffle blouse. The artist keeps what should be converted into the multi-dimensional world on a flat surface and blurs its information by rearranging and overlaying the forms. The once clear guidelines for a piece of clothing – something individual and personal – transform into a geometrical, architectural design resembling masks or a creature, and thereby creating a certain unease. The blurring of the boundaries of what we should see and what we do see, is uncanny and unsettling, but allows us to once again question our personal truths.

The limitations of our perception often hinder us from seeing the bigger picture, but they also allow every individual to have a unique experience. Dagmar Heppner invites us to heighten our senses, to face the unease and begin to see the beauty in the disharmony of both medium and the presentation thereof.

The musician Gertrud Grunow (∗1870 in Berlin, †1944 in Leverkusen) was invited by the Bauhaus master Johannes Itten to teach her course on the Theory of Harmony at the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar from 1919 to 1923. Her theory had an holistic approach and linked the means of expression to the individual perception of colours, sounds and forms. Exercises aimed to sharpen the students' senses and to create an inner and outer balance, which was understood as precondition for the ceative process. A circle consisting of 12 colours related to 12 geometrical forms, 12 musical tones and 12 movements was a fundamental tool in her lessons.

Caroline Lommaert


Scroll to top