ELKE TANGETEN
(1968 | BELGIUM)

The first time I saw Elke Tangeten’s works was 2015 and I was at the presentation of the collective artistic project “Ave Luïa“, produced by La “S” Grand Atelier between 2013 and 2015 and exhibited at the Collection ABCD in Montreuil (Paris) for a few days. The project focused on religion, discussed without taboos by the workshop participants. In general, the works on display had all seemed to me a sort of fresh air, because such a “dangerous” theme had been addressed in a poetic, unusual and new way. I recognized the very essence of its creators, who had impose their creative force, extraneous to doctrines and ideologies and without the will to proselytize.

Among the artists, Elke Tangeten had particularly impressed me for the union of photographic material with the embroidery technique. Old images of Madonnas and Jesus were distorted by a riot of colored filaments that redefined shapes and faces without destroying the original composition. It was a very personal reinterpretation of Christian iconography, delicate and pop at the same time.
Maybe because of too many saved images in my Pinterest’s “Embroidery” folder or my (failed) embroidery attempts, I love her works and I like to share them with you.

La prima volta che vidi le opere di Elke Tangeten era il 2015 e mi trovavo alla presentazione del progetto artistico collettivo “Ave Luïa”, prodotto da La “S” Grand Atelier tra il 2013 e il 2015 ed esposto alla Collection ABCD di Montreuil, Parigi, per pochi giorni. Il progetto affrontava il tema della religione, discussa senza tabu dai partecipanti del workshop. In generale, le opere esposte mi erano tutte sembrate una liberatoria boccata d’aria fresca, perché un tema così “pericoloso” era stato affrontato in chiave poetica, insolita e nuova. Vi si riconosceva l’essenza stessa dei suoi creatori che, estranei alle dottrine e alle ideologie e senza volontà di proselitismi, erano riusciti ad imporre la loro forza creativa.

Tra gli artisti, Elke Tangeten mi aveva colpito particolarmente per l’unione di materiale fotografico alla tecnica del ricamo. Vecchie immagini di Madonne e Gesù venivano stravolte da un tripudio di filamenti colorati che andavano a ridefinire forme e volti senza distruggere l’assetto originario della composizione. Era una personalissima reinterpretazione dell’iconografia cristiana, delicata e pop allo stesso tempo. 
Saranno le troppe immagini salvate nella cartella “Embroidery” di Pinterest o i miei (falliti) tentativi di ricamo, ma amo le sue opere e vorrei condividerle con voi.

Elke Tangeten, Untitled, 2013, Embrodery on chromolithograph adhered to paper, © Collection Bruno Decharme
Elke Tangeten, Untitled, 2013, Embrodery on chromolithograph adhered to paper, Collection Bruno Decharme and Antoine de Galbert, Photo © La “S” Grand Atelier, Vielsalm

To briefly deepen her biography, Elke Tangeten was born in Waimes, in the German-speaking part of Belgium, but she also speaks French well.
In her childhood she was diagnosed with a mild mental disability. As an adult, she found employment in a sheltered workshop, but a car accident put unfortunately an end to this job.

Since 2006, she has lived in Vielsalm, Belgium, where she has attended La “S” Grand Atelier workshops since 2012. She requires a good deal of attention because she if fragile and lacks self-confidence.
From the beginning, Else wanted to direct her practice towards textile creation, which has become her only form of artistic expression. At the Atelier, she has experimented several techniques, such as embroidery, knitting, and weaving. Over time, she seems to have found the medium that suit her the best: embroidering on photographs.

I found her works at the exhibition Photo | Brut in Arles on the occasion of Les Rencontres de la Photographie 2019 and, in the same year, at the Outsider Art Fair in Paris. I had the opportunity to discover that – in addition to religion – other materials on which she likes to work are the pages of magazines from the 1960s.

Per approfondire brevemente la sua biografia, Elke Tangeten è nata a Waimes, nella parte tedesca del Belgio, ma parla bene anche il francese.
Nella sua infanzia le è stata diagnosticata una lieve disabilità mentale. Nonostante ciò ha trovato lavoro in un’officina, ma un incidente d’auto ha purtroppo messo fine a questo lavoro.

Dal 2006 vive a Vielsalm, in Belgio, dove dal 2012 frequenta i workshop de La “S” Grand Atelier. La sua fragilità e la mancanza di autostima comportano un controllo molto attivo nei suoi confronti.
Sin dall’inizio, Else voleva orientare la sua pratica verso la creazione tessile, che è diventata la sua unica forma di espressione artistica. All’Atelier ha sperimentato diverse tecniche, come il ricamo, il lavoro a maglia e la tessitura. Nel tempo, sembra aver trovato il mezzo più adatto a lei: ricamare su fotografie.

Ritrovai le sue opere alla mostra Photo | Brut ad Arles, in occasione de Les Rencontres de la Photographie 2019 e, nello stesso anno, all’Outsider Art Fair di Parigi. Ebbi modo di scoprire che oltre alla religione, un altro tema su cui le piace lavorare sono le pagine di riviste degli anni ’60.

Elke Tangeten, Untitled, 2013, Embrodery on chromolithograph adhered to paper, Collection Bruno Decharme and Antoine de Galbert, Photo © La “S” Grand Atelier, Vielsalm
Elke Tangeten, Untitled, 2013, Embrodery on chromolithograph adhered to paper, Photo © La "S" Grand Atelier, Vielsalm
Elke Tangeten, Untitled, 2013, Embrodery on chromolithograph adhered to paper, Photo © La “S” Grand Atelier, Vielsalm
Elke Tangeten, Untitled, Embrodery on photograph, © La "S" Grand Atelier, Vielsalm
Elke Tangeten, Untitled, Photo © La “S” Grand Atelier, Vielsalm
Elke Tangeten, Untitled, 2018, Embrodery on printed paper magazine, Collection Bruno Decharme, Photo © La "S" Grand Atelier, Vielsalm
Elke Tangeten, Untitled, 2018, Embrodery on printed paper magazine, Collection Bruno Decharme, Photo © La “S” Grand Atelier, Vielsalm
Elke Tangeten, Untitled, Embrodery on printed paper magazine, Photo © La "S" Grand Atelier, Vielsalm
Elke Tangeten, Untitled, Embrodery on printed paper magazine, Photo © La “S” Grand Atelier, Vielsalm
Elke Tangeten, Untitled, Embrodery, Photo © La "S" Grand Atelier,
Elke Tangeten, Untitled, Photo © La “S” Grand Atelier, Vielsalm

LINKS:
Elke Tangeten, La “S” Grand Atelier
Elke Tangeten, La “S” Grand Atelier Exhibitions
“Photo | Brut”, Catalogue published on the occasion of the exhibition “Photo | Brut: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie”, debuted at La Mécanique générale, in the context of Les Rencontres de la photography d’Arles, from July 1 to September 22, 2019 , © Flammarion, S.A., Paris / abcd, Paris / American Folk Art Museum, New York, 2019

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