Tradition, Seth Siegelaub and The Center For Dying On Stage

Tradition, Seth Siegelaub and The Center For Dying On Stage

Grazer Kunstverein

Woven patterned textile (fragment), Peru, circa 16th century, 9.5 x 6.3 cm, wool, cotton. Courtesy of Center for Social Research on Old Textiles.

May 27, 2013

Seth Siegelaub

The Center For Dying On Stage

Grazer Kunstverein
Palais Trauttmansdorff
Burggasse 4
8010 Graz, Austria
Opening hours: Wednesday–Sunday 11–18

T 43 (0)316 83 41 41
F 43 (0)316 83 41 42
office [​at​]

8 June–11 August 2013

A selection from the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles (CSROT) with works by Willem Oorebeek, Lucy Skaer and Christopher Williams

The Grazer Kunstverein continues its exploration within the realms of social abstraction, by presenting a selection of the elaborate collection of historic textiles assembled by Seth Siegelaub (b. 1941, US) for the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles. Currently comprised of around 650 pieces, the collection includes woven and printed textiles, embroideries and costume, ranging from fifth-century Coptic to Pre-Columbian Peruvian textiles, late medieval Asian and Islamic textiles, and Renaissance to eighteenth-century European silks and velvets. At Marres, a selection of 50 items will be shown alongside art works. The exhibition follows The Stuff That Matters at Raven Row (London) in 2012, which marked the collection’s first public presentation.

After running his own gallery in New York from 1964 to 1966, Seth Siegelaub played a pivotal role in the emergence of what became known as Conceptual art, which resulted in a series of 21 art exhibitions in groundbreaking formats he organized between 1968 and 1971. In 1972 he turned away from art and moved to Paris, where he published and collected leftist books on communication and culture, and founded the International Mass Media Research Center. In the early eighties he began collecting textiles and books about textiles and in 1986 founded the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles, which conducts research on the social history of hand-woven textiles. In 1997 he edited and published the Bibliographica Textilia Historiae, the first general bibliography on the history of textiles, which has since grown online to over 9,000 entries.

The intimate relationship between textiles and society can be seen, as Siegelaub explains, in the fundamental role textile played in the rise of the capitalist system and the industrial revolution. While the form and aesthetics of textiles in general are determined by the way they are manufactured, the selection of items in the exhibition at the Grazer Kunstverein are specifically based on the abstraction of forms in relation to function. Amongst the items on display will be Barkcloth (tapa) and headdresses from the Pacific region (especially Papua New Guinea) and Africa.

The textiles in the exhibition will be shown alongside the works of three artists, Willem Oorebeek, Lucy Skaer and Christopher Williams, whose conceptual work reflects on notions of craftsmanship, industrial (re)production, modernity, appropriation and representation.

An essay by artist and writer Doug Ashford is published for the occasion. 

Curators: Krist Gruijthuijsen, director Grazer Kunstverein and Maxine Kopsa, director Kunstverein, Amsterdam

Tradition is the result of a collaboration between Marres, Centre for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht, Kunstverein, Amsterdam and Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Austria.

The Members Library* presents
A selection of publications produced by collector, researcher, and curator Seth Siegelaub.

Seth Siegelaub was a seminal figure in the Conceptual art movement of the 1960s and 1970s. His curatorial work took place both in physical spaces and, most significantly, in the form of books, in which he redefined the exhibition catalogue itself as the exhibition. Siegelaub’s approach mirrored the Conceptual art movement by raising important questions about the making, display, ownership, distribution, and selling of works of art. Alongside a selection of these publications, a collection of books on textiles also produced Siegelaub will be presented.  

*The Members Library is constructed and designed by artist and architect Céline Condorelli in collaboration with Harry Thaler as a permanent work titled Things That Go Without Saying. 

The Centre For Dying On Stage
The Grazer Kunstverein is thrilled to announce the inauguration of The Centre For Dying on Stage, an ephemeral research residency venture exploring the spectacle of death caused during a performative state. The centre structures, archives, commissions and presents undertakings that investigate notions around death and the stage by looking at cases of those such as Molière, Felix Mottl, Alexander Woolcott, Johnny Ace, Tyrone Power, Harry Einstein, Eduard van Beinum, Leonard Warren, Paul Mantz, Nelson Eddy, Joseph Keilberth, George Ostroska, David Burns, Jerome Rodale, Leslie Harvey, Irene Ryan, Carl Barnett, Chris Chubbuck, Sid James, Cyril Ritchard, Karl Wallenda, Bill Stewart, Arnold Soboloff Ron Watson, Renato Di Paolo, James Tuozzolo, Giuseppe Sinopoli, John Ritter, Gordon Reid, Darrell Abbott, Francesco Scoglio, Craig Ewert, Steve Irwin, M.N. Vijayan, Jose Fernando Castro Caycedo, Miriam Makeba, and, more recently, Jeroen Willems.

The Centre’s first researcher is Kate Strain, an Irish curator based in Dublin. Kate has been asked to structure the content and archive of the centre including its website. 

For further information, please check

On display continuously:

Ian Wilson
1 Feb 2013–
Ian Wilson (b. 1940, South Africa)is someone in whose work the Grazer Kunstverein sees its mission reflected; to explore relationships between the viewed—or discussed —and the viewer and the topical urgency of such interaction.

To stress his importance to the program, the Grazer Kunstverein has dedicated a permanent solo exhibition to the artist, which will display different works throughout the years as well as a commissioned and acquired Discussion.

The Peacock
1 February 2013–
A non-stop group show examining the interior of the Grazer Kunstverein by introducing (new) furniture, design, applied and decorative arts that analyze their own functionality

On display
8 June–11 August 2013
Nina Beier, Will Stuart and new installments by Eva Berendes and Josh Faught

For further information, please contact us at office [​at​]

Grazer Kunstverein is generously supported by the city of Graz, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Art and Culture, the province of Styria and Legero The Footwear Company and its members. 

The exhibition Tradition is generously supported by the Mondriaan Fund and the Royal Dutch Embassy in Austria. 

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Grazer Kunstverein
May 27, 2013

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