British artist Craigie Horsfield (Cambridge, 1949, lives and works in London and New York) is best known for his photographic work, but although the medium of photography plays a major part in his oeuvre, it would be doing him an injustice to simply call him a photographer. Horsfield has previously set up several social projects and has also made a number of films and sound pieces - all of which are very closely linked and evolve out of each other.
Whichever medium he works in, he is concerned above all with achieving the perfect ‘image’ and often spends years finalising a work. This certainly applies to the jacquard tapestries he has been making for several years in close cooperation with Flanders Tapestries, many of them based on photos he had taken previously. The presentation of Horsfield’s work at the M HKA concentrates on these tapestries. The exhibition includes four tapestries which the artist had already shown at the Frith Street Gallery in London in 2008: Above the road east toward Taibique, El Hierro. 15 minutes. February 2002 (2008) (an impressive cloud-fi lled sky - the two dates indicate the time difference between taking the photo and making the tapestry); The tree at the edge of the World, Sabinar. La Dehesa, El Hierro. 38 minutes, just before dark, March 2002 (2008) (a tree); and Zoo, Oxford. January 1990 (2008) (a diptych with a rhinoceros in each tapestry).
Horsfield also created nine new tapestries for this exhibition. He did several works on the basis of photos taken at the Moscow Circus in 1996, one work shows a mass of people at a concert in a club in Naples, and he has created a work on the subject of the Easter procession in Sorrento in Italy. One tapestry showing a firework and two of details taken from it cover the entire wall of the round room at the M HKA. In combination with these tapestries, Horsfield is also showing six prints, and attention will also be focused on the weaving process itself: more specifically on the transfer of a photo to such a tactile support as a tapestry and on the dialogue between the two traditions. Just like his other work, Horsfield’s tapestries are also about a whole range of other subjects, and in this way he talks about reality and the world around us, whether it be the clouds suspended in the sky above us, a procession such as those that still take place in the South, the elephant, tiger, lions and horses of the Moscow Circus, a solitary tree in a landscape or an anarchists’ concert in Naples.
In these works, Horsfield almost literally weaves together several of the themes that characterise his oeuvre. For example, he again touches upon the subject of ‘time’; it is one of his regularly recurring themes and he introduced the concept of ‘slow time’ into his work. Whereas photos reproduce one single moment, his tapestries, whose production extends over a much longer period, encompass a whole time span. But these tapestries also bring together past and present, being both a decorative medium that has a very long history and also the product of a highly technological process.
In addition we see an expression of the notion of ‘relation’, which Horsfield finds extremely important and on which he wrote in his 2006 publication Relation: ‘No self is PRESS FILE - CRAIGIE HORSFIELD Schering en inslag / Confluence and consequence - P4 conceivable in isolation and consciousness is born in relation.’ The tapestries, whose coloured threads are meaningless individually, but which together form an image, can be seen as a metaphor for a social world; but not only this - Horsfield does not consider them to be simply his own work, but the result of intensive cooperation between himself, the print designer, the weaving designer and the weavers at the weaving factory themselves.
The exhibition also stages an architectural sound piece, Antwerp Soundwork 6.1, which can be heard through 24 loudspeakers. Slow time is an important element in this work too: the work seems to decelerate time. Horsfield produced it in cooperation with the sound engineer and composer Reinier Rietveld, with whom the artist has worked with for 20 years. They have created several sound works in the past, including The Ravenstein Conversation.
Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, The Curve, Barbican Art Gallery, London
Grayson Perry, The Walthamstow Tapestry, Victoria Miro Gallery, London