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Heike Weber - KILIMS

A Bridging of East and West

Heike Weber is somewhat afraid. She has been invited to Turkey for two months as part of an exchange programme. This large country has aroused feelings of unease in the tall blonde German lady whose appearance will be sure to attract some attention during her visit.

Heike Weber is still kneeling on the floor of the Kunsthaus Langenthal and is drawing red lines across the white floor. Her drawing “Isohype” should cause the floor to start swinging in order to see just how free the audience of the exhibition entitled “fragile“ are from giddiness. By day the artist draws and speaks of her oncoming visit to Turkey and her fears. Turkey is the great foreign land, a mixture of modern and traditional values, of urban and rural lifestyles, insistent on its candidateship for EU membership and its Islamic culture at the same time. Fragile in its democracy, in need of development, Muslim, in fact “how many things cannot be said about Turkey”.

So what exactly are Heike Weber’s fears concerning this cultural sphere? It is thought that she in particular would understand this country. Her name is a thread in itself (Weber means Weaver in English). Woven into her family background, spun out of the job title of her ancestors and so self-evident as a material used in her own artistic work: threads, ropes, cords, lines, marks. There is a leitmotif to be seen by the onlooker, also in connection with her oncoming visit to Turkey. Like Ariadne on her way through the Labyrinth of the Minotaur, Heike Weber too has a thread with her that she may herself be sometimes oblivious to. This thread runs through all of her work and makes sure that even airy installations, pictures of the sky, white snow-capped mountain peaks and sensual girls’ dreams remain pragmatic and down to earth. The artist sketches, yet her work is so technical that it reminds us of spinning, weaving, winding, buttoning, seaming, fastening. Heike Weber’s pictures are stories, perhaps woven out of sailor’s yarn and intertwined like the passages from Arabian Nights. High curves, silhouettes, meteorology, pounding waves or mosquito nets – their lines made out of felt pen, cords, carpet or silicon can actually represent all sorts of things. The artist encases firmly assembled rooms with lines, until walls, ceilings, floors begin to swing, throwing textile folds across the space. Her mountain panoramas weave their way through narrow stairwells and trap the audience in their nets. So much handicraft, so many tools and at the same time intuitive understanding, emotional and aesthetic expression, if this is not enough for intercultural communication then things would look bad in the Orient and Occident.

Now Heike Weber is off to Turkey and soon she will be sending mails with subject headings such as \"Simsalabim\" and after a while \"the Orient has well and truly got me\". The artists depicts socio-political art projects of her Turkish hosts, walks through Istanbul’s quarters, meetings in Izmir, the roof terraces above the Golden Horn or foreign dishes. From time to time Heike Weber ventures further afield, from Istanbul’s Istiklal Caddesi promenade and Taksim Square to a journey to Diyarbakir, from familiar Falafel to Gözleme and the mountain orchid milk called Sahlep, as well as sour carrot juice Salgam accompanied by fresh pistachios. These are signs of how Heike Weber lets herself be involved in the space, the culture and its stories. The artist discovers beauty, friendliness, the intensity of Turkey and its people. It is not long before Heike Weber starts to complain about her approaching return, two months are simply too short and, just as expected, she does not return without any oriental carpets.

Admittedly, the artist did not buy the carpets at the bazaar but rather she made them herself or sketched them out of silcon. The sealing compound tightens to form finely woven oriental drawings. Oriental carpets are instantaneously recognizable in her work and although the beauty of Heike Weber’s work can be appreciated in its original form with wool and silk, the functionality of the oriental pictures is heavily reduced. Between the individual threads of silicon there are gaping holes, from the real oriental carpet there just remains an apparent pattern and the colours and cushioned surfaces are missing. Once again Heike Weber tells a story with lines including the spaces in between, a story about space and how we see space. We look for the beauty of the Orient with all of our preconceptions, the splendid patterns, the architecture of mosques and palaces and omit a lot of every day elements of life: we bargain for a rug for a holiday souvenir in a carpet shop and fail to notice how the gaps in our perception remain empty, or the holes that are part of the carpets. Heike Weber’s oriental pictures visualize this reduced perception in that they remain fragmented and therefore build a bridge by drawing a thread between the cultures of the East and West.

Fanni Fetzer – Head of the Kunsthaus Langenthal, Switzerland
Published in: Transfer Türkiye – nrw 2005 – 2007 journal

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