Andrea Hauer interview for Blacklisted Copenhagen

Andrea Hauer speaks about her career in sewing dissent - literally.

For the most recent Artist Invite exploring the topic of Resistance, we look into the textile work submitted by artist Andrea Hauer.

Published: January 28, 2019Words: Andrea Hauer & J.Scott StrattonArtist Link: andreahauer.esInstagram: @hauering

The work of Spanish-based artist Andrea Hauer provides this rather unassuming and approachable method of displaying heavier subject matter in the guise of the inoffensive and familiar. We all interact with textile as a craft in every aspect of our lives. That which is machined – our clothes, our furniture, our bedding – is completely forgettable. That which is handcrafted is often imbued with personal meaning – like that of the crochet sweater that my mother made for my infant son.

We rarely look at textile and craft as mediums for revolutionary or powerful artistic messaging. Which lends a subtle power to artists like Andrea Hauer who choose to use traditional crafting techniques to get her messages across.

The interesting thing is, that when one looks back through history, there is a rich tapestry (pun intended) of revolutionaries, dissenters, and dissidents that have woven their messaging into their craft. From the secret cipher hidden the 15th Century “Unicorn Tapestries,” to the Tricolore Cockade used to denote France’s revolutionaries. From 1970’s punks expressing resistance to a status quo through makeshift patches to a more recent example of unpaid factory workers sewing hidden messages into clothes. There are countless examples of resistance literally being woven into fabrics of our history.

Textile craftsmanship is often a backbreaking profession held by the most marginalized and underappreciated. So in the case of Andrea Hauer, an artist, and woman who is both woke and cognizant of the injustices towards the marginalized, they seem a most appropriate medium for expressing resistance through an artistic form.

'Growing Concerns' by Andrea Hauer • 2018 • Acrylic felt, thread and boxes

Tell me what first drew you to working with textile and craft mediums like fabric and thread?

As a child my grandmother taught me how to knit and sew and at school they taught me how to embroider, it was a hobby that I had for many years. I used to make my own clothes and during my college life I arranged second-hand clothes and sold them to earn some money. In college, I learned techniques and used a lot of materials but as soon as I had to choose my own medium, I went back to fabric and thread. My Final Project was made with discarded hospital bed sheets that my mother (who worked as a nurse there) collected for me. Many years passed by and when I became a mother I went back to fabric and thread, it was the perfect medium to work with a baby (no odors or toxicity) and to talk about household work.

Besides this emotional approach with the material I am interested in the fabric because it is completely malleable, it can be folded, torn, braided, joined, folded and unfolded, it is a resistant and fragile material at the same time, just as you can cut it you can patch it, sew several at the same time; it is structure and also decoration. I find it very versatile.

Working with fabrics allows me to be self-sufficient, I do not depend on technologies beyond needle and thread.

Can you tell me how you feel the work that you selected relates to the concept of “resistance”?

These works are related to resistance from two places, one for the character of the materials used (ordinary materials, worthless, already discarded or disposable) and another from how I work with them, which is a handmade, simple, minimal way and that does not need anything more than the workforce and time. That resistance is to an ideology – economic system – that induces us to consume, spend, use resources as if they have no limits, act fast, etc.

'Variaciones de Tramas' by Andrea Hauer • 2018

You submitted a couple of pieces, can you tell me about the first one ‘Growing Concerns’?

Yes, Growing Concerns starts haphazardly at home, gathering the grocery boxes for recycling. These boxes are just packaging and I find a waste of resources and energy that they only serve to be on a shelf and then be thrown away. When the wall of boxes became a parallel wall in my kitchen I decided to start dressing it with carpet. This carpet is recovered from one- time events (I made stationery items with this material with Colectivo elQuiltro years ago). I started to sew the boxes without a defined plan and it was taking shape in my head as the number of boxes increased. Today I have almost double the boxes of the last time I mounted the piece. This February is a year since I started with this project, I’ve planned to change the color of the carpet and reassemble the whole piece in a couple of months.

The second piece that you submitted related to your own experiences with being a woman, mother, and artist in Spain’s current economic climate. Can you tell me about that?

This second piece is part of a research process to reconcile my domestic and mother’s life with the artist’s work, I thought I could combine these three facets. The material used is salted dough, plasticine that can be made at home with the same materials that are used to make, for example, bread. I found it a good idea to work with such a polyvalent material, on one hand it is a material to play with children, on the other hand, it is related to food and my role as nurturer and housewife and finally it also works as clay, all this preserved by the fire power of the house furnace. Using these various materials allows me a self-sufficiency a – letting me work while I play and take care of my children.

In a broader sense, in Spain since 2008 the neoliberal policies of deregulation and privatization have been deepened in all areas of life and a very serious problem has been the number of evictions and people who have had to leave their homes or can not pay the stratospheric rents that are being requested.

Currently, in Spain there are more than 3 million empty houses and hundreds of families who have nowhere to live. Banks were rescued and they evicted people, social housing was sold to investment funds that raised the rent what they want and force people to leave, to that we add the gentrification of many neighborhoods … .the scene is horrible. In Madrid, Barcelona or the Balearic Islands, it is considered that we pay 45% of our salary only for rent …… no need to say more

'Estrategias de Desinformación' by Andrea Hauer • 2017

Do you work more broadly with the concept of “resistance” or other political issues across the rest of your work?

Yes, at the base of all my work is the concept of resistance because of the characteristics I mentioned before. In addition to that, I have some more focused work on political corruption in Spain in recent years.

With my work I place – in an aesthetic way – a series of issues that affect us all and that should make us take a position to be aware of them and change them (or not). I would like to change the world but it’s enough for me that those who relate to my work to think about the issues that I propose and luckily, take a position.

In your opinion, what role do you think art and artists play in providing the world with examples of resistance?

I don’t know, I do not think that artists or art have to set an example of anything, in my personal case I don’t make art to save the world or tell anyone what or how to do it, rather I understand my work as a dialogue with another (spectator) where I don’t have very clear what I think until the artwork is done, in this sense I think of art as a reflection, which can lead to a certain type of action as it can not. I think that resistance is not an individual or private matter, it is a front that must be common and our task as artists is to indicate the need for bridges and help build them.