Christina Forrer “Grappling Hold”

Swiss Institute Contemporary Art

poster for Christina Forrer “Grappling Hold”

This event has ended.

Christina Forrer’s tapestries are disquieting scenes in which naïve, wide-eyed figures are depicted in emotionally fraught situations and cartoonish conflicts. For Grappling Hold, the Swiss artist’s first institutional solo exhibition, Forrer has created several newly commissioned works that vividly illustrate anxieties and violent struggles.

Forrer’s textiles pay homage to the work of German painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) and in particular, the luminously hued tapestries he made in collaboration with the Swiss artist Lise Gujer (1893-1967). In her depictions of brutality, however, they also draw from the unflinchingly dark works made by Swedish textile artist Hannah Ryggen (1894-1970), known for her woven responses to the horrors of fascism. This balance of light and dark, warp and weft, is reflected in the title of the exhibition, Grappling Hold, a wrestling term for grips, pins, locks and other forms of fighting holds, which may also summon a clinging embrace.

The exhibition continues Forrer’s exploration of the weave itself as a structure that holds and pulls imagery in and out of shape. The artist articulates warring bodies so that they appear tugged and wrenched by the structure underlying the weave, as though tensions in the atmosphere could be experienced literally. In one work, a dysfunctional lineage of bodies gives form to psychologically inherited conflicts that run through generations. In this hysteric image, individuals casually strangle the generations beneath them, perpetuating legacies of hostility and violence with exaggerated absurdity. In another piece, a long row of figures, all facing in the same direction, watch the same unseen event, aghast. Their expressions, at once wild, comical, dumbfounded and horrified, are nonetheless all caught in the glare of a spectacle.

The exhibition finds an allegorical mascot in the form of a 19th century wooden children’s toy, which Forrer selected from the collection of the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. The toy features two back-to-back figures connected by the hands, who must move together, bound eternally.

Christina Forrer (b. 1978, Zurich) lives and works in Los Angeles. Selected solo exhibitions include Cat Lady, The Finley, Los Angeles (2016) and Christina Forrer, Grice Bench, Los Angeles (2014). Group exhibitions include Unorthodox, The Jewish Museum, New York (2015); Some Masks, Grice Bench, Los Angeles (2015); and Can’t Reach Me There, Midway Contemporary, Minneapolis (2015). She is the recipient of the Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant (2014).

Special thanks to Linda Eaton, John L. & Marjorie P. McGraw Director of Collections & Senior Curator of Textiles, Winterthur Museum; and Susan Yi, Grice Bench, Los Angeles.


On the occasion of Swiss Institute’s 30th Anniversary, SI has collaborated with Victorinox to create an artist edition Swiss Army Knife featuring a detail from Christina Forrer’s In the Forest (2014). Provided in a rare special edition of 500, the Swiss Institute 30th Anniversary Swiss Army Knife by Christina Forrer will be available for sale starting March 28 at Victorinox Swiss Army’s Flagship store at 99 Wooster St and at Victorinox Brand Store Rockefeller Center at 620 Fifth Ave, and online at and Victorinox is a Leading Partner of Swiss Institute’s 30th Anniversary and a generous supporter of our exhibitions and programs. Victorinox’s deep commitment to craft and innovation through tradition resonates with Swiss Institute’s three decades of championing forward-looking and experimental art making.



from March 29, 2017 to April 23, 2017

Opening Reception on 2017-03-28 from 18:00 to 20:00

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