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CONF: Textile Arts and Textility (Florence, 9-10 May 14)

  • Dates: 09 – 10 May, 2014
  • Location: Florence, Italy
  • Address: Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut
Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, May
9 - 10, 2014

Selvedge to Selvedge – Textile Arts and Textility from Antiquity to the

A Start-Up Workshop of the Joint Research Projects "An Iconology of the
Textile in Art and Architecture" (funded by the Swiss National
Scientific Foundation (SNSF) at the University of Zurich and directed by
Tristan Weddigen) and "Networks: Textile Arts and Textility in a
Transcultural Perspective (4th-17th Cent.)" (funded by the German
Research Foundation (DFG) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and directed
by Gerhard Wolf)

Organized by Vera-Simone Schulz and Gerhard Wolf

From an anthropological point of view, there is hardly a genre of
artifacts that is closer to us than textiles. Across cultures, time and
space, we are quite literally surrounded by them, from birth to death.
Yet, despite a growing interest in recent scholarship, the study of
textiles remains a marginal field. The aim of the research projects "An
Iconology of the Textile in Art and Architecture" (University of Zurich)
and "Networks: Textile Arts and Textility in a Transcultural Perspective
(4th-17th Cent.)" (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) is to take up this
challenge and to study the aesthetics of textiles and their vital role
as agents of cultural interaction during the three-year collaboration.

This first exploratory workshop seeks to propose an intellectual
framework for this endeavor: to give insights into individual research
projects, to stimulate discussions about specific methodologies and
topics relevant for the projects, and to open up future themes and
research perspectives. It will investigate textiles in regard to their
materiality, surface structure, ornaments and figuration, including
notions of framing, fragmentation and seriality, as well as
performativity. It will draw attention to the specific qualities of the
textile medium, to issues of transmediality and transmateriality, to the
technologies of textile production and to the multi-faceted
‘biographies’ of textile artifacts. Easily transported and of high
esteem in Asian, Mediterranean, and Northern European societies,
textiles were a privileged field for the elaboration of cross-cultural
artistic languages. The workshop addresses this migration of textiles,
raw materials, techniques and patterns from China to the Mediterranean
and Northern Europe, from Antiquity to the present, including the
mythologies, origin stories, the historical discourses and narratives of
textiles through the centuries, gender issues, and the modernity of the
textile arts.


May 9, 2014

Visit of the textile collection, Museo Nazionale del Bargello
(speakers and moderators only)

Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai, Via dei Servi 51 (open to the public)

Welcome and Introduction: The Site- and Non-Site Specificity of
Textiles: Transcultural and Transmaterial Approaches to Textiles in
Tuscany and Florence (Vera-Simone Schulz, Berlin/Florence)

Presentation of the outline and the scopes of the research projects:
Tristan Weddigen (Zurich): An Iconology of the Textile in Art and
Gerhard Wolf (Florence/Berlin): Networks: Textile Arts and Textility in
a Transcultural Perspective (4th-17th Cent.)

Evening Lecture:
Birgit Schneider (Potsdam): Floral Codes. Elements of a History of
Punchcard Weaving
Moderation: Gerhard Wolf

May 10, 2014

Visit of the Museo del Tessuto, Prato
(speakers and moderators only)

Casa Zuccari, Via Gino Capponi 22 (Closed session, registration for
participation via email:

Short presentations of individual research projects
Moderation: Tristan Weddigen (Zurich)

Mateusz Kapustka (Zurich): Textiles and Memory
Kyoko Nomoto (Oxford/Berlin): Chinese Silk in the Context of Eurasia, AD
Sylvia Houghteling (Yale/Berlin): The Figural Language of Textiles in
South Asia, ca. 1600-1650


Moderation: Olga Bush (New York/Florence)

Nynne Just Christoffersen (Berlin): Textile Trade in Sixteenth to
Eighteenth Century Northern Europe. The Patterns of Modern Visual
Anika Reineke (Zurich): Textile Spaces and the Conception of Interior in
18th-Century France
Anne Röhl (Zurich): Gendering Textiles in Post-war and Contemporary Art

Casa Zuccari, Via Gino Capponi 22

Evening Lecture (open to the public, registration for participation via
Barbara Karl (Vienna): Propaganda in Silk – Ottoman Flags and the Relief
of Vienna 1683

Moderation: Sean Nelson (Los Angeles/Florence)