In her series of four kilims – the flat-woven rugs native to Anatolian culture – Mai-Thu Perret pares down typographic and geometric forms to construct three-colour triangular patterns (Designs similar but on a larger scale to those presented by the artist in ‘Alphabet: Paintings and Text Works 2004–2009’. The works are inspired by the reductionism of Constructivism and its sensitivity for materials, the artist describing our era as somewhat baroque in contrast. It is this pragmatic ethos that Perret complicates by infusing with an open-ended implied symbolism.
The Constructivists’ transition away from the artist’s studio and the development of new skills and techniques it brought with it was also explored by the artist while on residency in Istanbul. The artist spent three days learning about the artisanal process of kilim making at the ateliers of HADD, a non-profit organization supporting children of migrant families, located in Van, Turkey. There are a number of parallels between this temporary production and skill-sharing and that described of Perret’s narrative, ‘The Crystal Frontier.’ In this multi-disciplinary fiction, members of an all-female commune in the desert in New Mexico record their existence in diary entries, song lyrics, letters, and artisanal objects. This society, founded by women and free from waged labour, offers a place of relative freedom for its inhabitants.
As a narrative component of production ‘The Crystal Frontier’ also allows the artist to address the lingering associations between craft techniques and women in the domestic space. It is within this context that Perret has created these minimal designs tempered by the organic woven surface and complex palettes of traditional dyes, where an angular Constructivist-inspired style meets traditional kilim symbolism.
Mai-Thu Perret (b. 1976, Geneva) is an artist living and working in Geneva. She is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and received her BA in English Literature from Cambridge University. Selected solo exhibitions include Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, 2016; Blond & Cie, Geneva, 2015; Simon Lee, Hong Kong, 2014; David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, 2014; Fondation Speerstra, Apples, 2014; Galerie Francesca Pia, Zurich, 2013; Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, 2012. Recent group shows include Rubell Family Collection, Miami, 2015; Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht, 2015; Priska Pasquerr, Cologne, 2015; Musée des beaux-arts, Le Locle, 2015; MAMCO, Musée Rath, Geneva, 2015; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, 2015; Swiss Institute Contemporary Art New York, 2015; The Biennial of Moving Images, Center d’Art Contemporain, Geneva, 2014; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2014; Pace Gallery, New York, 2014; Museum of Contemporary Art, Siegen, 2013; Kunsthalle Bern, 2012. Perret received the Zurich Art Prize, 2011; Manor Cultural Prize, 2011; Prize of the Swiss Foundation for Graphic Arts, 2008; Kiefer-Hablitzel Prize, 2006; Swiss Federal Prize for Fine Arts, 2004 and 2006.