I first met Lara Schnitger through Anton Kern after seeing her work at his gallery in New York City. I was fascinated by the way in which Lara uses textiles to capture the same characteristics of classical sculpture in terms of volume, tension, and corporeality. She also adds a layer of temporality, a present, to her works—it can be found in an embroidered detail or a form that she develops purely out of a desire to experiment. After seeing just a few of Lara’s sculptures, I was struck by how alive her art feels. I felt it was important to highlight this quality in the production of the exhibition My Other Car is a Broom for which the work Gridlock was created.
Lara came to Stockholm in October 2004 to meet with us and look at the spaces that we thought would be suitable for exhibiting her work. I let her know that Matts Leiderstam would be exhibiting at the same time in another room. Since his exhibition was scheduled to open two weeks before hers, visitors would have to pass Lara’s exhibition in order to enter his. In light of this, we began to discuss how we could cordon off Lara’s space. Lara took this question and ran with it—she wanted to do the cordoning herself.
In May 2005, I visited Lara in Los Angeles. We spent five days working on the exhibition, partly in her studio along the Los Angeles River, near the textile district, but mostly at her house in Silver Lake where we worked with a model of the exhibition rooms at Magasin III.
Gridlock is the work that Lara created to cordon off the exhibition during the installation. The title ’gridlock’ refers to a traffic situation where intersecting streets are so congested that the cars cannot move. For two weeks everyone who came to see Matts Leiderstam’s exhibition also saw these pennants, which are inspired by bumper stickers—a decal that is affixed to the bumper of a car, usually featuring some sort of text. Common in the USA, they often have religious, humorous, or political messages. Lara had recently spent some time in Nepal, where she became fascinated with Tibetan prayer flags. In Gridlock, she has brought these two rather contradictory cultures together into one textile object with screen-printed text.
Behind this work, the exhibition was being constructed in full view, even while the museum was open. When Lara’s exhibition opened, the work was reconfigured and the textiles were in part wound around the columns in the room, creating a new work with respect to form that now allowed patrons to enter Lara’s exhibition space. Gridlock is just one of the many whimsical ideas that surrounded the exhibition My Other Car is a Broom.
Summary of Richard Julin’s conversation with Camilla Berggren, March 13, 2015. Text edited by Ellen Klintberg Gedda and translated by Suzanne Martin Cheadle.