The Event of a Thread | Das Ereignis eines Fadens

Olaf Holzapfel

Olaf Holzapfel (b. 1967) lives and works in Berlin. Between 1996 and 2001, he studied painting at Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, followed by research studies at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India, and a period as an artist in residence at Columbia University, New York. From 2006 to 2008, he was a visiting professor at the Art Academy Karlsruhe and from 2008 to 2010 at University of Fine Arts in Hamburg. In 2014, he was awarded the Gerhard Altenbourg Prize. His work explores the connection between technology and nature. Using mainly natural materials with traditional symbolic meanings, the form of his sculptures refers back to the territories and ways of life in which they were made. His work has been shown in a number of solo exhibitions, including the Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Santiago de Chile (with Sebastian Preece), Palais de Glace in Buenos Aires, Galerie im Taxispalais in Innsbruck, and the Max Wigram Gallery, London. His work has been included in the Dresden State Art Collections. In 2017, he is a participating artist at documenta 14 in Kassel and Athens.

Olaf Holzapfel: Chaguar (10), 2012–2015, Chaguar, natural colours, realized by the craftswomen of the northern Argentinean Wichi Communities; photo: Uwe Walther, © Olaf Holzapfel
Chaguar (10), 2012–2015
Olaf Holzapfel: Chaguar (5), 2011–2014, Chaguar, natural colours, realized by the craftswomen of the northern Argentinean Wichi Communities; photo: Uwe Walther, © Olaf Holzapfel
Chaguar (5), 2011–2014

Chaguar, natural colours, realized by the craftswomen of the indigenous Wichi community in Argentina; photos: Uwe Walther, © Olaf Holzapfel

Chaguar is a plant used by the Wichí communities of Northern Argentina for fiber to be woven into bags or ponchos. Olaf Holzapfel is interested in specific uses of local handcrafts and materials, the processes of formation and transition between art and craftsmanship. He encourages people to work together and to enter into a visual communication through practices and forms. He asked female Indio weavers to transfer his computer-generated abstract designs into their visual language and motives. Thus the artist and the weavers carry on a dialogue in which they mutually try to understand techniques, pictorial concepts, and the image space.