HARD/SOFT: Textiles and Ceramics in Contemporary Art brings together two seemingly contrasting materials.
Lower Exhibition Hall
While textiles are associated with warmth and flexibility, ceramics formed from soft clay radiate a cool fragility. Yet both media bring to life an aesthetic language that shifts between hard, soft, unwieldy, and flowing. The materials, shapes, and significance of the selected works reveal a broad spectrum of ambiguity, vagueness, and simultaneity.

The exhibition showcases the work of around 40 artists from Austria and all over the globe, whose artistic practice draws on craft techniques such as embroidery, knotting, and weaving, as well as sculpting, wedging, and firing. The sculptures, installations, and painted works, which also include embroidered images, patchworks, and tapestries, show a vast range of artistic and interdisciplinary approaches that combine visual and applied arts, architecture, music, and digital space. These pieces offer an insight into production methods, ateliers, and workshops, as well as cross-disciplinary collaboration. Here textiles and ceramics hold cultural significance for communities; they have become intertwined with economic and political systems. Alongside the materials’ characteristic features, the exhibition considers feminist ideas, explorations of the body, questions of cultural appropriation as well as gender stereotyping.

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Hildegard Absalon, El Anatsui, Anna Andreeva, Ranti Bam, Maria Biljan-Bilger, Cosima von Bonin, Geta Brătescu, Agnieszka Brzeżańska, Verena Dengler, Noa Eshkol, Gelatin, Sonia Gomes, Nilbar Güreş, Sheila Hicks, Klára Hosnedlová, Dorota Jurczak, Kapwani Kiwanga, Peter Kogler, Beate Kuhn, Denisa Lehocká, Goshka Macuga, Jonathan Meese, Hana Miletić, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Robert Morris, Ann Muller, Ulrike Müller, Michèle Pagel, Lucie Rie, Willem de Rooij, Camila Sposati, Laurence Sturla, Dorothea Tanning, Rosemarie Trockel, Franz Erhard Walther, Ingrid Wiener.
Bärbel Vischer, Kustodin MAK Sammlung Gegenwartskunst
Curator, MAK Contemporary Art Collection
Antje Prisker, Special Projects
Andrea Lenardin Madden / a l m project
Atelier Dreibholz
The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive program of talks and events. Workshops for children and adults offer visitors the chance to work side by side with artists and learn about the textile and ceramic techniques used in a range of artistic approaches. We embroider out of protest, dabble in soft sculpture, and experiment with clay as a co-creative medium. In a series of talks, we look at how textiles and ceramics can be used to explore socio-political themes and will be organizing discussions with some of the contemporary artists featured in this exhibition. Curator-guided visits, dialogue tours as well as our regular exhibition tours offer unique insight into the works on display.