By sheer coincidence, there are two fibre arts exhibits that have aquatic themes: one at the Sculpture Center in Queens, and the other at the Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan.
At the Sculpture Center, Who’s Exploiting Who in the Deep Sea showcases lovely fabric sea creatures handcrafted by German artist Cosima von Bonin, who uses the main space of the center as if it were a beach, replete with seaside amenities such as changing stations and food trucks … but …. instead of the humans who would normally populate such a scene, we find that
the lifeguard station has been taken over by a teal blue hermit crab, who seems to be giving a press conference…
Further away you’ll find a white shark, seated at a classroom desk, as if the artist were playing on the phrase “a school of sharks.” Or is the shark just like a modern-day office worker, slumped at his/her desk? Or is it about the play of soft and hard surfaces?
Scallops dominated the show – large, small, brown, white, swinging, stationery, always with peering eyes (they were my favorites – they had real personality)
In the center was a giant octopus made of different fabrics that would normally clash when put together, but in this instance, it all works. Not only is this denizen of the sea so friendly, its also a bit nerdy, in keeping with how intelligent they are.
The exhibit takes its title from a song, Exploitations by Irish singer Róisín Murphy, and the musical link continues with the electronic music of Moritz von Oswald which accompanies this small display of porcelain decorated with sea creatures, which is a riff on the anthropomorphic drawings of the 19th century French illustrator J.J. Granville