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Shane Waltener: Weaving as Performance

Shane Waltener’s practice is rooted in ideas about ecology, sustainability and reuse. Taking the form of objects, installations and performances, Waltener draws inspiration from a range of craft practices ranging from textile and basketry weaving to needlecraft and ceramics. Weaving however is at the core of his work.

The artist shares anthropologist Tim Ingold’s view that making is a modality of weaving, not the reverse. Making anything, whether a building with bricks and mortar or verbal communication composing words into sentences is a weaving process. If art is a matter of organising chaos into pattern, the artist’s work is essentially that of a weaver.

Waltener champions the idea of weaving as an ‘embodied’ practice, one that engages the whole body. He is a member of Ambient Jam, an improvisation ensemble which explores movement and music with tactile sculptures. Working with them has led Waltener to use methods common to dance and movement practitioners, relying on improvisation as well as acquired routines and skills in order to develop work. The making process is then recorded as a performance score.

Exemplifying this way of working is his recent work with The Building Action Group (BAG) during his residency at Academie Minerva in Groningen, The Netherlands; the third and final project in a programme following Hella Jongerius and Anotonio José Guzman. In response to the earthquakes caused by gas mining in the province of Groningen, that led to more than 100 collapsed buildings, 400 more being condemned and some 100,000 people being displaced since the early 1990s, the artist proposed to weave a house entirely from locally sourced soil and plant material. Continue reading →