PORNOGOBELIN

Pornogobelin is an attempt at reviving an all but forgotten bourgeois phenomenon of centuries past: a variation of the needlepoint or tapestry known also as the gobelin. In our region, the name gobelin generally refers to a type of framed needlework on canvas, hand-crafted using the diagonal or cross-stitch. “Since the Victorian period, embroidery had been indicative of an individual's virtues. As an exclusively female craft, it symbolizes care for the home and as such is in a way a sort of art in every home.” Its comeback in the seventies and eighties comes in the shape of a popular free-time ‘creactivity’ tool-kits with pre-printed motives, most commonly flower arrangements or rural idyllic scenery: cats, dogs and other animals and landscapes.

By combining traditional techniques (needlepoint) and untraditional motifs (porn) Pornogobelin playfully appropriates the aesthetics of the lo-fi digital format, which was utilized for dissemination of pornography on the web, to a symbolically rather conservative medium of the gobelin. It thus joins the symbolic act of caring for ones home with disclosing the taboo of sex and interprets porn imagery as a potential home decorative element.

At the Ljubljana premiere, the exhibition of sensual gobelins was placed in a cult bohemian building - the abandoned lavish bourgeois house Šumi. The exhibition opened to the music of renowned zitherist Tanja Zajc Zupan, and was accompanied by a performance by Tina Kolenik and an exclusive auction.


Maja Smrekar: Reflections on Pornogobelin

Every time has its own culture that gives it unique characteristics, which give birth to special artistic phenomena that mark that period with a specific image. One such phenomenon, which has been appearing more or less as a decorative element in interior design since the 19th century, is the gobelin.

The name gobelin refers to a family of Parisian textile manufacturers of the same name that started with the production of tapestries in the 16th century. Across Europe it has been used as a synonym for tapestry. In our region, however, the name generally refers to a type of framed needlework on canvas, hand-crafted using the diagonal or cross stitch.

This type of gobelin appeared as a result of the industrial revolution and the ever growing bourgeois class. In that period, very high importance was given to the art of living, which was apparent also from the decoration of people's homes.

Since the Victorian period, embroidery had been indicative of an individual's virtues. As an exclusively female craft, it symbolizes care for the home and as such is in a way a sort of art in every home. By all means, one must not overlook the creative aspect of embroidery, which is, as far as the gobelin is concerned, more important than the aesthetic value of the visually and technically rather simple samplers.

But whether it is crafted plainly or skillfully, the gobelin indicates an aspiration for the better appearance of the home's decorative elements. Furthermore, it is very important for its maker because it shows extraordinary creative power of women that have been skillfully producing needlework, which not only furnishes but also accompanies our lives. This brings us to the assertion that within one's home, by decorating it with one's own works of art, everyone can be an artist.

The growing industrialization and, as a result, the lack of time, have brought the decline of this tradition. The revitalization of this craft means the embracing of our ancestors' heritage while building upon it and adapting it to the motifs of today's mass culture. Reviving the period and way of life, which gave birth to these works is also an attempt at preserving this tradition from extinction. with this piece, we have taken the art of gobelin from the hands of oblivion and stopped this part of our cultural heritage from being lost. By doing so, we are reviving the times past within the current time and place.

The fast development of information and telecommunication systems brings with it a change in human interaction, styles, the perception of all things visual, which is also conditioning the use of media through which we express ourselves. Today, certain devices are indispensable for the production that required special manual skills in the past. However, various methods utilizing modern technology are not a substitute for the traditional means of expression. They are rather a necessary parallel in today's way of life. In the visual field, a branch of digital aesthetics has developed that is comparable to the gobeline, whose structure is similar to digital photographs formed by pixels.

More recently, the gobelin appeared as a cultural phenomenon in the 1970's and 1980's, in a period of prosperity, when peoples lifestyles allowed more time for customizing their home with hand-made decorations. Through the reappearance of the gobelin, such craft became art for the masses. Modern cultural and communication trends allow less and less time for the customization of an individual's home with items of one's own making. At the same time, with the fast and unsteady living of the modern individual, which is the reason for the growing disconnection from a constructive attitude towards the ideas of a home and family, the gobelin, as a symbol of homeliness and personal security, is losing its initial meaning. It becomes an incomplete symbol that overlooks the complete image of a past reality. The gobelin therefore in the current time an place acquires a new meaning. It is an image that attempts to seal the the crack between fiction and reality in that it symbolically represents the home as an institution through imagery that idealize the virtues from the past.