Katalin Ladik

Sewn Sounds

Venue: acb Attachment
Date: Jul 29 – Sep 03, 2021

A radical woman performer active in the Yugoslav as well as the Hungarian Neo-avant-garde, Katalin Ladik’s work is perhaps the greatest rediscovery of recent years. Her visual and sound poetry, performances and body art are based on the intermedial reinterpretation of body and language, sound and visuality. Her feminist approach enriched the avant-garde discourse with a radically new position not only in Yugoslavia, but in Hungary as well, thanks to her regular performances and her participation in the unofficial international network of Neo-avant-garde art

A major part of Ladik’s work is associated with music that essentially addresses relations between sound and the woman’s body. The current exhibition presents a selection of her sewing pattern collages and sewn textiles realized between the mid-seventies until nowadays. In her collages, scores and visual poems, sewing patterns cut out of women’s fashion magazines appeared in the mid-seventies and created both a feminine and feminist visual material. These works ironically addressed and challenged behavioural norms and limitations attributed to traditional gender roles, but also the prevailing, dominant visual language of her male colleagues –like Desire (1978), Snail Aria (1979) or Polish Folksong (1978). Meant to be performed according to the text written on it as well as its shape but not being defined by norms of musical notation, each collage is both a visual poem and an improvisative phonic piece, and is presented alongside its phonic interpretation by the artist.

Katalin Ladik has recently continued this body of works with sewing pattern collages realized in 2019.

She incorporated the concepts of volume into the works by crumpling the sewing pattern before mounting it on paper, as in the Jacob series. She also included the notion of movement in the works composing her Dervish and Jacob series. The pieces bearing the subtitle Sound-movement therefore combine the performative potentials of both a phonic and a spatial interpretation through non-choreographed, improvisative movement. They further explore the complex relation between visuality, sound and the woman’s body, subversively referring to the whirling dance performed exclusively by men in the frame of the Sufi ceremonies – Dervish doesn’t want to dance, Dervish has bad dreams –, or humorously evoke the deceitful and manipulating biblical character of Jacob in absurd situations – Jacob doesn’t find the emergency exit, Jacob’s ladder in a whale.

In the exhibition, unfolding the idea of sewing, the collages are presented alongside textiles sewn and embroidered with thinner or thicker threads and lace, usually realised during performances in the last decades – Lightning and Snail Are Singing, 2008; Three Laces Playing, 2008; The Song of Circe, 2017). Liberating sewing from its general perception – a silent activity women do in indoor intimacy – Katalin Ladik activates the different patterns, lines or shapes appearing on both sides of cloths of different colours as scores. Thus she reveals the usually invisible part of sewing as well, maintaining her interest for what is hidden or secret that has accompanied her through her whole practice.

On the opening day, Ladik will premiere her new performance Sing-her, My Love! in the exhibition. 


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Katalin Ladik's performance "Sing-her, My Love!" at the opening