Dorothea has an intimate and long-year relationship with line. She has been exploring the possibilities of line, reinterpreting and reinventing this element in terms of how it has been conventionally implemented, viewed and displayed. From the first glance questions of estrangement arose. Dorothea’s approach to material and space is equally as enticing as her philosophical reimagination of line. From the onset we were intrigued. Dorothea relieved us of our suspense and kindly offered us a deeper understanding of her history, work process and technique by answering our questions.
Dorothea, could you briefly elaborate on your work?
Throughout my development as an artist, my art has revolved around the phenomena of material as line, which assumes open forms in space and presents itself as the concept of drawing within space; these constructs are metaphorically drawn onto space, but simultaneously burst the space they occupy wide open. In my approach a diaphanous spatial sculpture that poetically exposes its own aesthetics emerges. Through the juxtaposition and opposition of forms, a variety of visual perceptions arise, which invites and prompts individual interpretation. Views sharpen in identifying structures within an inner and outer frame. Consequently, the object is seen as permeable, and yet displays enclosed physicality. Thus, contemplation of the conditionality of space and physicality, of inside and outside, of functional and erratic form and of stasis and movement ensues.
In relation the free line within space I am interested in different types of materials. For example, I use technical textile in order to create a new identity of the idea and the material. This means that the continued existence of certain materials is synonymous with of other media, be it paper, in photography, in videos, films or installations. Artistic realization does not have to be bound to a specific medium. Depending on the observer’s imagination and perspective the conceptual approaches that I show reveal artistic transformations which demonstrate liberation from the conventional, canonical materials and forms. It is about lightness, transparency and balance. Material and technique become means of expression, carriers of ideas and philosophical designs. Thus, they deliver testimonies of a thinking and working process.
When looking back on your career, how would you describe the evolution of your art over the years?
I started studying at the academy (quite traditionally) intrigued by tissue, in other words, with the organization of vertical and horizontal lines. I was interested in tapestry and in the possibility of implementing large-scale wall coverings.
Coming from the art of weaving, I had become accustomed to discipline and order. I discovered that tissue only arises through the interweaving of lines. Whilst making paper in the 80s I found an extension to the process of weaving. The use of finest fiber fibrils and a flow process give rise to compounds that resemble a woven construct, but by one dimension deeper; it is the malleability of the paper pulp into the third dimension.
The third phase of my career, textile and technique, was then initiated through a cooperation with the Deutsches Museum München. It was the time of development for technical textile material, the so-called intelligent textiles. The material that suited my concept and work process, it was light, transparent and diaphanous, and not yet tainted by purpose.
An important point in my career, however, was the recruitment by the University of Paderborn to teach the subject of textile design in the art faculty. Lecturing opened up many opportunities for me to work freely and without commission, to experiment and to think across subjects and to pass on my knowledge to young people.
26 years of freedom in lecturing and research, that was a time of great demands. It was about breaking down boundaries, but also experiencing how creativity develops independently, without imitation and adhering to templates. Diversity was required, which of course had an impact on my own artistic activities.
What is your source of inspiration?
Actually, every new idea develops in the implementation of the previous idea. No work is ever completed. After years of hiatus, a new solution often presents itself. At times it is the material; other times it is the own linear drawings, the problems of nature and the phenomena of light and light phenomena.
How would you describe your relationship with nature and what influence does it have on your work?
In 1989 I went a step further and processed old crops, such as Flax in nature. Field projects arose where growth and decay, artificial interference by humans, natural and artificial regulation principles overlap in symbiosis. Figures arose, accompanied by signs of human presence and activity in the landscape.
In the latest project, I am concerned with what would occur, should nature take leave of the variety of colors, the splendor of colors. Everything would just be bathed in achromatic colors like black and white. Black and white as non-colors (without color), achromatic colors, and the shades of gray in-between, would just be neutral, colorless. Transferred to nature everything would be artificial, bleak and empty. But it would be a form of silence and contemplation, concentration and we would not be distracted.
Don’t you agree? Plants would be produced artificially. In subterranean halls, on nutrient solutions or in padernoster-like tubs always facing the sunlight.
In these hanging greenhouses, we construct a make-believe nature, our perception is clouded. Everything dissolves, splinters or shreds, amorphous figures emerge, an illusion of false facts, nature's carousel takes its course. All that remains is the beautiful appearance, interferences, distortions, refractions of light and shadow or is this merely a vision of impending doom?
Your choice of materials has changed throughout your career. At the start, you preferred textile fabrics and today it is the modern high-tech materials that you are interested in. Could you explain this development?
The demands that a creative process places on an artist and thus on the materials are constantly changing. On the one hand, I am fond of using materials that are light and translucent. On the other hand, I require materials which create illusive states of levitation and simultaneously conforms to full-blown shapes or shells which, additionally, can demonstrate the phenomenon of inside and outside. At the same time, it is the potential transformation to the structures and textures of a material that I am able to manipulate which inspire me. Often it is a space, or a dimension, that leads to corresponding designs. Or to piece something together that does not belong together.
Which materials do you prefer to work with and why?
I do not have a favorite material. There are, however, materials that do not appeal to me, because of their rigid nature and lack of manipulability. In this respect, I am no sculptor who envisions the figure in stone to then set it free. I require materials which can be shaped and formed plastically, things which can be manipulated in detail. Take my paraffin works for example; paraffin and paper does not coalesce and yet I still need it to fixate a work in process.
Line is a repetitive element in your works, what does it mean to you?
Line is the movement of a point. Movement only originates through the application of force which extinguishes the tranquility of the point. Line is the translation of the moving hand, the arm and ultimately the body. For me this dynamic is a basic principle. At the same time, the organization of threads in a loom and thus in the tissue, is an ever-present factor. In this way, line has accompanied me from the start; it’s different characteristics, as Paul Klee proclaimed, as an active, passive, pioneering, swelling and deflating, wave or zigzag line. This inconspicuous element has so many facets to it.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment I am developing a wall piece from a linear wire mesh in connection with light disks with a rotating center. Light breaks on the inner and outer edges of the discs. It is like a solar disk, which forms the center and structures the piece, but also adds a certain dynamism. Through the translucent, diaphanous surface, the disc retracts optically and frees up space for the linear exaggeration of wires and connecting points.
What is your next project?
Next, I want to continue developing my tectonic exaggeration drawings. I am looking to further expand my book objects, to elaborate on and expand a light installation with fluorescent tubes and rotating polygons that move like northern lights, and to develop a new series for the XC.HuA Gallery that could expand into self-organization, light scattering, light reflections, and reflections.