Otti Berger

people smiling with costumes Otti Berger and friends, c. 1930


Murdered by the Nazi regime

Like many female members of the Bauhaus, Berger was sequestered to the weaving department – a suitably womanly domain.  However, Beger distinguished herself as a great innovator with a profound understanding for the materiality, construction and composition of her designs.  Known particularly for integrating unorthodox materials like new plastic and celluloid fibers into her work, and being the first woman ever to receive a production patent for her textile designs.

With collections preserved in national museums worldwide, Berger is regarded as one of the great pioneers of textile production and design in the 20th Century.


Draw in space but make it BIG

6mm steel rod manipulated into ladder form, 1.5m approx.

Was disappointed with the final look of this experiment. Though it was great to be down in the metal workshop again, synthesizing something pretty quickly and always good to practicing welding, shaping metal etc.

Perhaps due to the machine-manufactured quality of the starting material, and the mechanical processes I used to bend and shape the rods, instead of looking like an idiosyncratic, whimsical drawing, the steel ladder has more of a bauhaus, European Modernist look about it.

Whereas I wanted to retain the shaky, imprecise quality of the hand drawn line.

Shapes and Line

Experimenting with activating the negative space of a ladder, working with and within the gaps.

Asking myself, what’s the minimum intervention I can make to communicate ‘ladder’ what’s its fundamental graphic impression?

Think this could be quite effective on large sheets of translucent paper – or even frosted glass.

Glass would be fun.  Obvious association with widows – though the windows would be the spaces where glass was absent.

Additionally it would give more solidity to the positive form of the ladder.  Introduce something of the ridiculous i.e. glass rungs on a ladder.

Shifting Dimensions

Though slightly clumsy and amateurish I am interested in investigating the ladder’s diagrammatic potential by exploring the space between 2 and 3-dimensions.

Manipulating wire into ‘laddery’ forms was a quick way to do that.  A kind of drawing in space.

I think the activation of work of this nature is as, if not more important than the work itself.

Pictured are a few experiments with spotlighting.

I enjoyed the process of having taken the ladder drawing into 3-dimensions, reversing this shift and focusing on the shadows cast by the material object

Shadows exist almost between dimensions.  Forms that are the absence of light, that are inky black but have no materiality.

Intangible but a looming physical presence of escalating and de escalating scale.

Mona Hatoum, Grater Divide, 2002, Mild steel

Gaaahhh! Such an elegant, expressive, gestural work.  Referencing the pop art enlargement of Claes Oldenburg etc. but so much sharper, pithier, wittier.

Thinking about the domestic sphere, how its designated and divided.  How these divisions are antagonistic and potentially injuring.

Architectural references, Chinese lacquer screens, skyscraper cladding.

Chillingly ‘Grown Up’ but Childlike, The Borrowers, ‘honey I shrunk the kids’.

Larger-than-life kitchen appliances something out of a Seuss book | From the Grapevine