May 1, 2019

by Katie Wells


Fabian Matz is a contemporary fibre artist whose primary material is fine mesh polyamide tights. Matz takes this familiar, mass-produced material and transforms it into absurd, grotesque and incredibly beautiful abstract objects. Fabian Matz’s work is aesthetically driven. His fascination with the properties of this material are almost obsessive in the working and reworking of the fabric into new forms. Some pieces are radiant and graceful, choreographed as if the exhibition space is a stage and the objects dancers. Other pieces are abject forms, grotesque, shameful and discarded. With each new series, Fabian Matz creates a whole new language of expression using the same materials; the progression of his work is continuous and abundant. I interviewed Matz for The Fiber Studio and asked him to expand on some of the ideas behind his fibre art. If you enjoy the article, please give it a share on social.

Your primary material is fine mesh polyamide tights, can you tell us a bit about how you came to work with this material and what it means to you?

During my studies at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts I started to experiment with this material out of great curiosity in connection with epoxy resin. This fine, easily destructible fabric fascinates me because of its character and properties.

Do you aim to challenge gender stereotypes with your work? Is there a feminist undertone?

Yes, indirectly. The work and the confrontation with a “female” material makes this contrast visible through the works. So far I have only known female artists who deal with tights in their work. This fashion accessory is so strongly linked to the female gender. All the more I am addressed to this connection between myself and the tights.

What is the relationship between your work and the fashion industry?

I use an industrially produced fashion accessory that is produced on computer-controlled circular knitting machines. These are mass-produced items that differ in colour, fibre, size and quality. The resulting objects, on the other hand, are unique. The question of quality takes on a different significance. Whether cheap tights from China or high-quality produced goods from Germany or Austria (earlier brands also from Switzerland) contain quality features, which I sound out in my work processes.

Some of your works come across as grotesque or Abject, can you tell us a bit more about this?

My primary concern is to deal with an item of clothing that is worn in everyday life or on special occasions. I would like to reverse this certain matter of course in a visual way. The absurdity of the familiar awakens in me the curiosity to deal with it even more intensively. Very important to me is the contact to the audience through the work in exhibitions or the media. This creates interesting views and questions about things that are known to us, but hide something within themselves.

Who or what influences your work?

My own work. The curiosity which connections and relationships can be made to tights. And again and again small flashes of thoughts when I buy material for working, which I then no longer use for the originally planned purpose, but something new emerges.

Do you have a particular piece or project that you feel most connected to?

I feel equally connected to all works. Behind every work there is a working process that is constructed from emotions, joy, mistakes and problems. The works bring this mixture of experiences with them.

What are you currently working on?

Since my work is experimental and research-based, I always work on several projects in parallel. I’m currently working with a video editor on another video clip that was created on the North Sea island of Amrum (Germany). In 2017 I created bizarre and grotesque bodies on the “Kniepsand”, a shoal of the island. Photographs and videos were created which were originally only meant for documentation purposes. The longer I deal with this documentation material, the more potential it has to develop independent works.

Fabian Matz – dancing wind and flying sand (2017/2019) from Fabian Matz on Vimeo.

The work ‘Jesus was not wearing tights’ (below) is quite different from your other works. The polyamide tights appear as flexible rectangular sheets, almost like paper. What is the significance of this work and it’s title?

These individual leaves were cut from forms into rectangular leaves, as in the multipart work “shaped bodies” (2016). So far I have never cut or divided the tights or stockings. Always processed as a whole piece. Over time, however, I only process parts of it that only partially refer to the original clothing item (material, color). This increases the abstraction of the used fashion accessory.
The titles to the works are a second level for me. They are not necessarily linked to the work in order to read and understand it. They add another feature or an indication to the work with which the audience can decide for itself how it should be read and understood. In the work “Jesus was not wearing tights” I would like to evoke a fact that perhaps does not yet exist, but which in connection with the materials used creates something new. Links to the familiar with a slight provocation.

In your work Contortio you collaborated with Mongolian contortionist Azaa Zaya. Can you tell us a bit about this collaboration and the resulting artworks?

Because of my interest and enthusiasm for body deformations, I invited the Mongolian circus artist and contortionist Azaa Zaya to my studio to take pictures of different figures. These photographed figures in a light beige-brown full-body suit I juxtaposed with my photographically documented works, asking about the expression of the human body. On the one hand an artistic form and on the other hand a formed object.