The German-Swiss artist used everyday objects as main material and transformed them to interpret and question through them the relationship between body and architecture, identity and ordinary products and objects.
Among the best known works by this artist there are compositions of women's clothing and traces of buildings on fabric. Her first experiments appeared in the early '70s after the artist spent a period of time in California with her husband, artist Carl Bucher.
She had actually expressed great interest in working with fabrics while she was still studying at the School of Applied Arts in Zurich. This interest was confirmed in her first exhibition at the Galerie Marie-Suzanne Feigel in Basel in 1956 where she displayed silk collages. All the work she developed from then on was mainly inspired by emotional memories of her home, childhood and family.
The artworks on display in the Dionysian section of the Arsenale were made between 1973 and 1977: at the time the artist chose a woman's underwear as the starting point and the main material for her pieces. Petticoats, vests, pants and stockings have indeed an intimate relationship with the human body as they are in direct contact with it.
The artist obtained a series of surfaces created by immersing the pieces into an emulsion of natural white rubber, that solidified once the garment dried.
The liquid latex created a thin pliable film enveloping and protecting the dresses, aprons, blankets, underwear and stockings. In some cases the latex creates a disturbing effect: a pair of long pants look indeed as if they were a mass of discarded skin, but the artworks are also symbolical vestiges of past lives, they indeed survived their wearers, becoming textile fossils of previous lives, bearing in their folds the shapes and silhouettes of the wearers and, ultimately serving almost as portraits.
Visitors who have more time may try and linger in front of these works to study some of their details Bucher's 1975 Der Fisch Schläft (The fish is sleeping) incorporates for example the image of a fish at its centre, reminding us that the marine world was always very inspiring for Bucher.
In a way these clothes look as if they were dripping wet and hanging on the line, an impression given also by the shimmering effect of the latex on the fabric that hints at the opalescence of shells, insects and fish scales, references to the artist's memories of childhood.
Want to know more about how she obtained that glimmering effect? The secret is hidden in the latex that was infused with mother of pearl pigment, a trick that will hopefully inspire the textile and fashion designers visiting the Biennale.