Der Hände Werk

Brigitte Felderer

The appreciation for crafts and skilled trades is subject to permanent change. The historical period covered by the exhibition shows how traditions change and yet keep influencing crafts until the present day. Which innovative impulses can be extracted out of the meaningful cultural history of craftsmanship in Europe?

(c) Stefan Wiltschegg



The objects of this exhibition show the extent to which our cultural and social history is informed by the traditional values and bygone forms of organisation of craftmanship as well as its current practice. Reaching from precious paintings to the virtuosic masterwork and on to telling everyday-life objects, the show allows for retracing how for example the travelling journeyman oriented themselves, taking the road all over Europe, how they formed new acquaintances so as to allow new knowledge to spread. It becomes visible that women and girls provided essential foundations to home building and maintaining familial structures with their handicraft skills.

The exhibition does not forget to point to current clichés and idealisations of traditions and vernaculars of craftmanship with their tendency to short-circuit manual skills and professions with tradition per se so that their necessary development and potentials drop out of view. In short: This exhibition has no need to valorise crafts but it points to their new significance and cultural topicality, its extensive history and promising future in cities and rural areas, showing many facets of and making propaganda for manual skills and knowledge.

The exhibition fascinates, informs and asks fundamental questions: Which expectations, projections, wishes, dreams and visions have been and are now associated with the topic of craftmanship? How have its definitions and regulations changed? How are the different professions in crafts  perceived and valued at present? How did and how do craftsmen and craftswomen confront their societal role? How can one face clichés and prejudices towards occupations in manual work? Which societal and technological innovations have always been and are emanating from crafts today? Are old separations between male professions and female professions still influencing the choices of profession adolescents make? Last but not least: Which innovative impulses can be extracted out of the meaningful cultural history of craftmanship in Europe?

Exhibition: 16 March - 03 November 2019


Curated by Brigitte Felderer and Katrin Ecker Exhibition design: Michael Wallraff