Nesa Gschwend

Art is a universe – and the artistic world of Nesa Gschwend, like any cosmos, can only be described in an approaching manner.
In the work of Nesa Gschwend, craft, philosophical, socio-political and aesthetic processes, form-finding and sense-finding, are so closely interwoven that any verbalization would actually have to fail. In the context of the publication “”Memories of Textiles””, I will only address four terms that I am confronted with in view of the artist’s works: body, communication, information, identity.
In the artist’s oeuvre, bodies – her own, but also those of others – become the instrument, the carrier and the mediator of a “”message””. The interplay of form and content, the aesthetic decision begins before a work is even created, with the head and the hands, with the movement of the limbs, with the interplay of gestures and facial expressions, with the fusion of doing and thinking – regardless of whether the artist works alone or whether many interact in a participatory performance.
It continues with the concrete movement, the respective action with and in materials. The associated touching and being touched can be calmly described as the “”raw materials”” of Nesa Gschwend’s art. This can be seen directly in the use of the body’s own raw materials, such as the hair on the head, but also in the reuse of things that are close to the body, precisely the substances, the textiles, which do not always form something like a second skin for people, but do so somewhat often. The physical is present in the obvious handicraft of the works, which is not exclusively handicraft, but producer of “a valuable content, which points beyond the pure being, beyond the pleasing decoration.
With the handwork, the working hand-in-hand, which is always an exchange of gestures, of feelings, of non-verbal contents, Nesa Gschwend creates the basis, for example in the endless series “”Human””, but also in “”Relations””, to reflect on substantial questions, tangible in the best sense in the pictures, in the objects, such as: What does it actually mean to be human?
In her work, Nesa Gschwend combines craft traditions such as embroidery, sewing and knotting with avant-garde and performative techniques of art-making. She is one of the most distinguished artists in Switzerland, reflecting and actively shaping individuality and community in her work. In her works “”Human”” or “”Relations”” series, Gschwend processes autobiographically charged materials such as hair or pieces of clothing that come from her own family. She thus intertwines the material with the spiritual substance of memories, transfers the subjective into the collective memory. The collective is also an essential component of her work “”Living Fabrics””, a textile installation that emerged from participatory performances with people from different social classes and nations. The interplay between the artist and the participants has resulted in multifaceted objects that symbolize the necessity of togetherness.
Roland Scotti, curator Kunstmuseum Appenzell/Kunsthalle Ziegelhütte.