Exhibitions: Johann Jacobs Museum, Zürich
MGK, Museum für Gestaltung & Kunst, Hamburg
Denise Bertschi's textile work stretches around the edge of the table in the large hall of the museum. The embroidery is based on various documents from the heyday of Swiss colonialism, including correspondence between the state authorities in Bahia and Bern, emblems of the Swiss consulates in Salvador and Leopoldina, as well as lists of the estate of a Swiss plantation owner who died on Leopoldina. His possessions included 100 kilometres of coffee plantations and 150 slaves.
The tropical archives in which Bertschi found what she was looking for are not suitable places to store such documents. Rather, they contribute to transforming paper into aesthetic nature and dissolving history. The half-decayed letters and documents essentially consist of blank spaces - similar to the artistic St Galler hole embroidery, which was machinized at the be-ginning of the 20th century. Brazil was one of the first customers for these new embroidery machines.
St.Gallen lace can still be found today in the white festive robes for Candomblé ceremonies. So while the precarious archives are on the side of those who seek to repress colonial history, the artistic approach captures memory.