(b. 1971, Stockholm, Sweden; lives and works in Stockholm)

Bella Rune app for the exhibition The Fabric of Felicity, 2018
App for smartphones with ARCore support, textile, dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist

Augmented reality is rarely used to show the other side of things, to endow them with a will that is dormant in ordinary reality. Bella Rune, a professor at Konstfack, the University of Arts, Crafts, and Design in Stockholm, uses a special application to reveal the demonic plans of textile ornament. The repeating pattern is by no means neutral: the artist became convinced of this during her exploratory trip to Ivanovo, the center of the Russian and Soviet textile industry. Using motifs of industrialization and early Soviet slogans, fabric designs by local artists made in the 1920s and early 1930s continued the struggle for the hegemony of the proletariat. Ornament can only be suspended by a cut, but never destroyed: the app reacts to various triggers—from the architecture of Garage to specially-created uniforms and scarves—by creating a flood of patterns. Avant-garde and propaganda ornament lost the race for universality to paisley, which came into existence several centuries earlier and is still reproduced by the textile factories of the Ivanovo region. The secret of the teardrop-shaped motif’s success, which Russians call “cucumber,” is possibly in its “biologicalness:” tears, cucumbers, and human beings are mainly water. Plus, the outline of the ornament resembles an early-stage mammalian embryo. The paisley pattern reflects the total employment of humankind in the factory of life.

Valentin Diaconov