Anne Low’s installation Dust Bed is an encounter between century-old craft traditions and contemporary art methods. Reminiscent of a bed of history gone topsy-turvy, this sculpture is made of silk cloth handwoven by the artist herself. The title refers to how the dust from underneath looms, a side product of weaving, due to the agility of the work, was collected, then used to stuff mattresses. Low’s work consists of textiles and is informed by historical craft methodologies which form both the material and a conceptual basis for much of her work. Her ongoing study of handweaving techniques, especially those from Europe in the 18th century, is central to her practice. At the same time, Low’s art is not bound to a particular historical period but addresses contemporary subjects such as housework, the decorative, utility and taste.
Even though weaving is historically important, this extremely time-consuming and—in many places—female-dominated occupation of making cloth has seldom been associated with any name. Low brings to light woven objects and combines them with other hand-crafted objects—and also ready-made elements—in such a way that her latest work approaches the surreal. Some of this surrealism is connected to her translating, rather than practicing, so-called cultural appropriation. Low’s “translation” is in line with the post-colonial theorist Homi Bhaba’s ideas about how we always need to transform one thing into something else. In other words, it is not about asserting or upholding ownership rights, but about immaterial cultural heritage, about in a temporary and subjective way, activating knowledge through a skill. In Low’s case, this involves a continuous, often unrestrained and poetic translation done by hand. As part of the Art Encounters Biennial 2019, at the textile museum—Muzeul Textilelor—in Băiţa, three hours by car from Timișoara, Low is showing two of her recent woven sculptural objects. ML
Anne Low (b. 1981, Stratford) lives in Montreal. Her work includes sculpture, installation, textiles and printmaking. Low engages with the history of textiles and the artist’s role in upholding unique orders of knowledge embedded within these traditional practices. Her work speaks to wider narratives around the impulse to differentiate surface, object and self. Selected exhibitions: Chair for a woman, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2019, solo); Soon Enough—Art in Action, Tensta konsthall, Stockholm (2018); Paperstainer, Mercer Union, Toronto (2018, solo); A wall as a table with candlestick legs, Tensta konstall, Stockholm (2018, solo); Witch with Comb, Artspeak, Vancouver (2017, solo); Separation Penetrates, Mercer Union, Toronto (2017); Clive Hodgson & Anne Low, The Block, London (2017); Dream Islands, Nanaimo Art Gallery (2017); Ambivalent Pleasures, Vancouver Art Gallery (2016); Reading the Line, The Western Front, Vancouver (2015).