Critics’ Picks

View of “Ines Doujak,” 2016.

Stuttgart

Ines Doujak

Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart
Schlossplatz 2
October 15–January 15

Ines Doujak had a reputation for making aggressively explicit work well before her sculpture Not Dressed for Conquering / HC 04 Transport, 2010––which depicted a former Spanish king copulating with a dog––cost three people their jobs at MACBA last year. It is not unusual for Doujak’s work to mine the intersection of textiles, fashion, and violence, as well as globalized relations of production, power and colonialism. It is therefore surprising that her solo exhibition in Stuttgart, also titled “Not Dressed for Conquering,” seems somewhat reserved throughout, even though Doujak does not shy away from controversy.

Here, the works cluster around a winding walkway that leads by seven pop-up stores, each of which houses a grouping of objects, texts, videos, or pieces of music that address a particular theme. The section titled “Dirty Secret” deals with the erasure of the Other and Western modernity’s claim to universality. Doujak deftly evokes this cultural annihilation by printing patterned Andean cloth with a black sewing pattern for hats that degrades the “primitive” patterns, in an oblique reference to Kazimir Malevich’s all-devouring 1915 Black Square.

Whether Doujak documents the iconography of racism or the conditions of Asian sweatshops, fabrics always serve as her means. Taking on the Andean view that textiles are a bearer of cultural knowledge, Doujak conjures the dirty history of textile trading, which has long existed at the forefront of global exchange. Nonetheless, despite the gravitas inherent in its criticality, the show at no point bludgeons viewers with moralizing. Thanks to the show’s pop-up displays, where visitors can touch the fabrics and try on all the clothes, Doujak superbly uses the beguiling atmosphere of boutiques to mirror their shadowy undersides.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.