German-Finnish artist Matti Braun is interested in what he terms ‘cultural misunderstandings’. His work examines the process whereby art and craft objects from one culture come into close contact with that of another and are consequently misunderstood, resulting in a shift of meaning. Fascinated by the way objects are valued and exchanged, Braun conducts in-depth research into cultural products and how they are made and used.
In 2003 Braun recreated a series of traditional Asian Ikat textiles. Made in India for centuries, Ikat are among the most expensive textiles in the world. Braun replicated a form of Ikat known as ‘Patola’, a particularly complex and labour-intensive method of production where the warp and weft threads are resist-dyed before being tied with such precision that when woven, threads from both axes mesh exactly at certain points to form a motif. Taking two people six months to make, Patola textiles are often made especially for export, with variations in pattern to suit a particular market. Their desirability has led to the creation of many counterfeits, something Braun’s overt copies, made using silkscreen, perhaps allude to. In India, Patola are worn as saris by aristocratic women to display wealth and social standing. They are also used to adorn deities in temples and placed on the backs of ceremonial elephants and horses. When exported their function has often changed; in some places they were thought to have healing properties, in others they were used to give rulers supernatural powers.
Matti Braun was born in Berlin in 1968. He studied at the School of Fine Art, Braunschweig between 1989 and 1996 and at the Academy of Fine Art, Frankfurt am Main. His work has been included in group exhibitions throughout Europe including Multiple Exposure, Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck, Austria (2003), ARS 01, Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (2001) and Superca, Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam (1999). Braun’s solo exhibitions include The Showroom, London, the Kunstverein Freiburg (2003) and BQ, Cologne (2002).