Workshop: « Selvedge to Selvedge – Textile Arts and Textility from Antiquity to the Present » – Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, May 9 – 10, 2014

Web_BildA Start-Up Workshop of the Joint Research Projects « An Iconology of the Textile in Art and Architecture » (funded by the Swiss National Scientific Foundation (SNSF) at the University of Zurich and directed by Tristan Weddigen) and « Networks: Textile Arts and Textility in a Transcultural Perspective (4th-17th Cent.) » (funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and directed by Gerhard Wolf) Organized by Vera-Simone Schulz and Gerhard Wolf From an anthropological point of view, there is hardly a genre of artifacts that is closer to us than textiles. Across cultures, time and space, we are quite literally surrounded by them, from birth to death. Yet, despite a growing interest in recent scholarship, the study of textiles remains a marginal field. The aim of the research projects « An Iconology of the Textile in Art and Architecture » (University of Zurich) and « Networks: Textile Arts and Textility in a Transcultural Perspective (4th-17th Cent.) » (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) is to take up this challenge and to study the aesthetics of textiles and their vital role as agents of cultural interaction during the three-year collaboration. This first exploratory workshop seeks to propose an intellectual framework for this endeavor: to give insights into individual research projects, to stimulate discussions about specific methodologies and topics relevant for the projects, and to open up future themes and research perspectives. It will investigate textiles in regard to their materiality, surface structure, ornaments and figuration, including notions of framing, fragmentation and seriality, as well as performativity. It will draw attention to the specific qualities of the textile medium, to issues of transmediality and transmateriality, to the technologies of textile production and to the multi-faceted ‘biographies’ of textile artifacts. Easily transported and of high esteem in Asian, Mediterranean, and Northern European societies, textiles were a privileged field for the elaboration of cross-cultural artistic languages. The workshop addresses this migration of textiles, raw materials, techniques and patterns from China to the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, from Antiquity to the present, including the mythologies, origin stories, the historical discourses and narratives of textiles through the centuries, gender issues, and the modernity of the textile arts.


May 9, 2014 14:30 Visit of the textile collection, Museo Nazionale del Bargello (speakers and moderators only)

17:30 Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai, Via dei Servi 51 (open to the public)

Welcome and Introduction: The Site- and Non-Site Specificity of Textiles: Transcultural and Transmaterial Approaches to Textiles in Tuscany and Florence (Vera-Simone Schulz, Berlin/Florence)

Presentation of the outline and the scopes of the research projects:

Tristan Weddigen (Zurich): An Iconology of the Textile in Art and Architecture

Gerhard Wolf (Florence/Berlin): Networks: Textile Arts and Textility in a Transcultural Perspective (4th-17th Cent.)

18:00 Evening Lecture: Birgit Schneider (Potsdam): Floral Codes. Elements of a History of Punchcard Weaving

Moderation: Gerhard Wolf

May 10, 2014

10:00 Visit of the Museo del Tessuto, Prato (speakers and moderators only)

14:30 Casa Zuccari, Via Gino Capponi 22 (Closed session, registration for participation via email:

Short presentations of individual research projects

Moderation: Tristan Weddigen (Zurich)

Mateusz Kapustka (Zurich): Textiles and Memory Kyoko Nomoto (Oxford/Berlin): Chinese Silk in the Context of Eurasia, AD 1-600

Sylvia Houghteling (Yale/Berlin): The Figural Language of Textiles in South Asia, ca. 1600-1650 break

Moderation: Olga Bush (New York/Florence)

Nynne Just Christoffersen (Berlin): Textile Trade in Sixteenth to Eighteenth Century Northern Europe. The Patterns of Modern Visual Culture

Anika Reineke (Zurich): Textile Spaces and the Conception of Interior in 18th-Century France Anne Röhl (Zurich): Gendering Textiles in Post-war and Contemporary Art

18:00 Casa Zuccari, Via Gino Capponi 22 Evening Lecture (open to the public, registration for participation via email: Barbara Karl (Vienna): Propaganda in Silk – Ottoman Flags and the Relief of Vienna 1683

Moderation: Sean Nelson (Los Angeles/Florence)

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