The Event of a Thread | Das Ereignis eines Fadens

Judith Raum

Judith Raum (b. 1977) is a Berlin-based artist and author. She studied fine art, philosophy, art history, and psychoanalysis in Frankfurt and New York. Her paintings, objects, lecture performances, and installations explore tensions between social and economic research and questions of artistic desire and abstraction. Among other venues, she has recently presented her work on German semi-colonialism in the Ottoman Empire at the House of World Cultures Berlin, Salt Istanbul, and Heidelberger Kunstverein; she also presented lecture performances and paintings on textiles and social history at Piano Nobile, Geneva, Chert Gallery, Berlin, Kunstpavillon Innsbruck, and Ludlow 38, New York. Since 2007, she has taught at art institutions across Europe, most often at the University of Fine Arts in Berlin. In 2015, she was a Villa Romana Fellow in Florence.

Judith Raum: Cotton Pieces, 2011/12, highly pigmented ink and acrylic on cotton; photo: Uwe Walther, © Judith Raum
Cotton Pieces, 2011/12, highly pigmented ink and acrylic on cotton; photo: Uwe Walther, © Judith Raum

Judith Raum's installation begins from her encounter with the historic pattern books of the Oberfränkisches Textilmuseum Helmbrechts. Her large-scale paintings transform excerpts of textile history into a complex spatial situation of socio-economic history. The textiles allude to the surfaces of fabrics produced by German home-weavers for the Middle East in the late nineteenth century. As part of her research, Raum also investigated archival material in the Deutsche Bank historical archive, which reveals many aspects of German financial imperialism in the Ottoman Empire in the early twentieth century. Her work suggests that the textile medium intermeshes with the advance of German technology and machinery during the construction of the Baghdad railway, the German engagement in cotton production in Anatolia, and existing trade connections between the Ottoman and German empires.
The still images in the video projection 'Machine subjectivity' show generations of weaving machines: 'The video reflects the search for a language, both visually and acoustically, apt to reflect a non-instrumentalizing relationship between subject and objects using images from different hand looms in Germany and Turkey. It triggers ideas about the production of subjectivity and self-empowerment, demonstrated here in the working ethos of home weavers and their entrepreneurial risk, which is based on improvisation.' (artist statement)