Va Artist-in-Residence

Monika Grabuschnigg

Based in Berlin, Germany

Va Artist-in-Residence
March 2016

Va Lecture and Open Studio
March 9, 2016, 19:00 IRST, Va Residency Space, Roudaki House, Isfahan, Iran

In her one-month stay at Va Residency she executed her project “Placing Echoes on Facades & Interweaving Void”. Consisting of two parts, the project deals with the purpose of an artist travelling for short amounts of time to other countries to produce art, how meaning of art works shift in different cultural spheres and last, the dominance of western art history.

In ‘Placing Echoes on Facades’, Grabuschnigg produced five white sculptures in her studio in Berlin, evolving around the artists own romantic, sentimental and prejudice view of Iran. Her templates were found images on the Internet, books, oriental shops in Berlin and western newscast. In Isfahan, selected local artisans and artist worked on these white objects and completed the work with traditional craft, like mirror mosaic and miniature painting.

The sculptures travelling from Berlin to Isfahan and back again, transform in their appearance, including what they embodied as object themself, due to the latitude given to the artisan concerning imagery and patterns. The works now become not only one voice of an artist, entering and imposing a prefabricated perception but an attempt of communicating through visual language.

The works are sized to fit in a suitcase and are a reference to “box in a suitcase” (Boîte en valise) from Marcel Duchamp. Additionally, the suitcase acts as a symbol of success or work for young contemporary artist and a logistic important tool in how to transport your artworks cheap and still safe. Interweaving void is produced at the local Haghighi Isfahan carpet factory. Drawings from Grabuschnigg’s residency stay are incorporated in three standard sized prayer carpets. Many modern prayer rugs are strictly commercial pieces made in large numbers to sell on an international market or tourist trade, offering a wide range of standard symbols.

Interweaving Void is an attempt to constitute a breach between traditional craftsmanship and the idea of art as a sacred good and its commercial production for consumerism.

The project was funded by the Federal Chancellery of Austria, the Art and Culture Department of Vorarlberg in Austria and the Austrian Culture Forum (OKF) in Teheran.

Read more about the project on Monika Grabuschnigg’s website (external link).


Monika Grabuschnigg, born 1987 in Austria, made her Master in Fine Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna (A) and studied as an exchange student at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem (IL) and the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago de Chile (CL).

Grabuschnigg’s works circle questions about the meaning, identity and cultural affiliation of objects, symbols and ornaments once they have experienced a shift or de-contextualization, particularly in the form of souvenirs and other consumer products. Working mostly in the medium of sculpture her materials are clay and resins, which are processed in different mold and casting techniques, reassembling found and hand built shapes.

One of her latest works, The Relics Collection 2015-2016 (exhibited at Carbon 12 Gallery in Dubai) deals with the influence of war aesthetics in in the local Afghan rug industry from the 1980s onwards. Focusing on these rugs representation in contemporary art collections in Europe and referring to cultural voyeurism and the link between artwork and consumer commodity, The Relics Collection consists of several ceramic sculptures translating the war-rug imagery into vitrine destined fetish objects.