Szenes Zsuzsa: Ami korábban használati tárgy volt, most dísz. gyapjúhímzés, 1975
Zsuzsa Szenes: What was a Utilitarian Article now is Decor, woolwork, 18x15x15 cm, 1975
At the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s, Hungarian cultural politics looked at almost every formal or substantial innovation distrustfully. This rigidity applied in particular to painting and sculpture. Graphic and particularly the applied arts were given less attention, as they were considered less significant. This is why progressive tendencies in the field of textile art enjoyed relatively undisturbed tranquillity within the confines of the Savaria Museum in Szombathely.
The Wall and Space Textile Biennials and the mini-textile shows provided exhibition opportunities, while the Velem Textile Workshops provided a production and community platform for the movement, which experimented with materiality and with space in ways more common in the visual arts, and also renewed the genre.
Zsuzsa Szenes created her multilayered object (now in the collection of the Gallery of Szombathely) in this context. Applying her well known technique, woolwork, she transubstantiates a utilitarian article, a gas mask. With this subtle procedure, she radically transforms the original connotations of the item.
With the help of a technique connected to femininity, she puts into quotation marks the function of the object originally linked to an accentually masculine activity, as if she were employing embroidery as a weapon against war. At the same time, she brings into play the notion of the caring mother, and she assigns a friendly, colourful, but at the same time homemade character to the object.On the one hand, the title refers to the alteration of its status, mastery of mind over function, while on the other, it refers to the dissimilar judgement of the visual and the applied arts (traditionally, the latter has had only decorative functions, while meaning is exclusively assigned to the former). Thus, she emancipates applied arts and at the same time feminine forms of activity.
- I.n.: I. 67-68.
- Beöthy, Balázs