Sewing the Empire Linden Museum Stuttgart

Sewing the Empire


13 July 2023- “24 February 2024

Italian artist Marina Gasparini works primarily with textile materials. Her art focuses on site-specific installations that are in dialogue with the surrounding architecture. Another focus of her work is the combination of writing and images with textiles. As artist-in-residence at the Linden Museum from May through July 2023, the artist explored selected objects from the Oceania Collection. In this presentation, she introduces the artwork she created during the residency.

Marina Gasparini’s work focused on the materiality of different objects and what things are able to reveal about the interactions between people and different species of plants and animals. Central questions were: How did colonialism, European science, and the commercialization of production, hunting, and exchange affect people and their natural environment, plants, and animals? In particular, what role did botany play in opening up a tropical plant world and making it available for European exploitation?

As a result of her artistic research, twelve artist’s books made of textile materials were created, which deal with the materiality of twelve objects from the permanent exhibition “Oceania – Continent of Islands”. Each of these Leporello or accordion books combines graphics, texts, and historical images in a very special way.

In the course of her stay, Marina also conducted two workshops in which she invited people to participate in her research. Participants learned about different plant and animal species used to make objects, as well as the history of colonial “discovery” and exploitation of the species. They then made thread drawings that were transformed into “fossils” by imprinting them on clay tablets. The line drawings made during the workshops also found their way into two additional textile accordion books.

The twelve artist’s books by Marina Gasparini – leporello books with drawings – are on view in the Linden Museum’s Oceania exhibition.

In the framework of the Taking Care project, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.