WORDS Charlotte Di Qual
IMAGES Viasaterna
Gallery VIASATERNA in Milan is currently showcasing a solo exhibition dedicated to the textile works of Marion Baruch, running until March 22nd . Protagonists of the exhibition are re-signified textile remnants that reside on the threshold between sculpture, installation, and ready-made.

Born in 1929 in Timisoara, Romania, Marion Baruch grew up in a politically and socially unstable environment, with Stalinism and Fascism shaping her education and artistic journey. Baruch sought solace in art from a young age, with a childhood spent drawing and a subsequent journey that led her through Bucharest, Jerusalem, and Rome. When settling in Gallarate in the 1970s, she collaborated with architect Carlo Moretti on a modernist villa, delving into design and sculpture. A move to Paris from 1993 to 2010 saw her engaging in relational art projects, before returning to Italy in 2010, where she permanently resettled in Gallarate. Since 2012, Baruch has dedicated her artistic research solely to textiles and by extension on the regions’ historical links to the textile industry.

Her solo exhibition at Viasaterna stands as a comprehensive anthology of her textile works from the past twelve years, including previously unseen pieces, which are displayed through two exhibition floors.
What Marion Baruch has been carrying out since 2012 stands as one of the most interesting aesthetic endeavors on the international contemporary art scene. By using fabric remnants from prêt-à-porter fashion houses, which would otherwise be discarded, Baruch codifies a language through the alternation of shapes, colors, matter and emptiness. Her intervention is minimal, reduced to the selection of precise points for the textiles’ attachments to the wall, determining the way in which they fall and fold. Here lies the great sensitivity, the genius of her artistic practice. Rather than concealing, she chooses to minimize, allowing the void to assert itself as a poetic focal point – an active space brimming with potential.

Her fascination with textiles is evident throughout her whole artistic career, influenced by the post-war industrial transformations she witnessed. By challenging consumption habits and industrial waste production, her work sheds light on the hidden allure of remnants often overlooked. Baruch’s decision not to alter the fabrics celebrates their past while revealing the continuous transformations they undergo.

“I feel at home everywhere and with everyone”, declares the artist – a sentiment echoed in her multicultural background and polyglot nature. Baruch’s multilingualism is reflected in the titles of her artworks, spanning German, Italian, English, and French – such as “Schwerkraft” (2018), “Attraverso lo specchio” (2018) and “Bird” (2016). The titles she assigns are evocations of memory, multi-layered puns that reveal the nature of compositions, impressions of colors and form. Despite the nuances lost in translation, they facilitate interpretation and reflect one of Art’s prerogatives: enabling a dialogue between people, cultures and languages.

The exhibition culminates with “Meccanismi di Precisione per Sculture” (2022), a previously unseen series where fabric fragments are suspended within open cases – a display that laminates the exhibition space as part of the artwork. Here, Baruch’s textile excerpts reach the peak of their sculptural dimension, while retaining their delicate nature as fragments suspended in the void.