Soft? Tactile Dialogues

The guardian angel of Kati is a large soft sculpture that the presents together with her paintings.
A painting by Kati Heck in which she has depicted herself three times together with a magician. The canvas expands beyond the edges of the frame and is draped on the floor. In this hand-knotted carpet different cultures and animals are merged into one mask. The tapestry plays with different textures and was made in once piece after which it was cut out in an expressive shape. A flag from which eyes and a mouth have been cut out, making it look like a mask. The mask is made of various fabric with unexpected prints and colours by artist Nel Aerts.

"Soft? Tactile Dialogues" is about the freedom with which artists move between various media, about unexpected textile applications, about tactility and aversion, and about the textures and the skin of sculptures.

Visitor information

  • Duration

    28 September 2018 until 24 February 2019

  • Price

    Free, a ticket reservation is not required

Description of the exhibition

This Autumn, MoMu will present the exhibition "Soft? Tactile Dialogues" on location at the Maurice Verbaet Center in Antwerp. This will mark the first time that MoMu takes its focus away from fashion. It will present work from its own collection by Belgian textile artists from the 1970s and '80s in an inspiring dialogue with contemporary artists who express themselves freely in textiles. The Maurice Verbaet Center's 1960s architecture and its monumental stairwell form an impressive backdrop for the exhibition.

Dig deeper

In the 1960s and '70s, many feminist, post-minimalist, and fibre artists found their way to textiles. They were attracted to the aesthetic possibilities, structural potential, and semiotic power of this 'soft' material.

  • Christoph Hefti, 'Animal Mask', 2016
    MoMu Antwerp | Stany Dederen
  • Ermias Kifleyesus, 'Beautiful Seeds', 2011
    MoMu Antwerp | Stany Dederen
  • Wiesi Will, 'Air Dancers', 2018
    MoMu Antwerp | Stany Dederen
  • Nel Aerts, 'The Ontmaskerde Maskes play Hide and Seek', 2018
    MoMu Antwerp | Stany Dederen
  • Klaas Rommelaere, 'Future', 2018
    MoMu Antwerp | Stany Dederen
  • SOFT? Tactile Dialogues, (c) MoMu Antwerp
    MoMu Antwerp | Stany Dederen
  • Kati Heck, 'Schutzengel of Painting', 2015
    MoMu Antwerp | Stany Dederen
  • Anton Cotteleer, 'Proberen de goede ganzenhouder te zijn', 2018
    MoMu Antwerp | Stany Dederen
  • Wiesi Will, 'Air Dancers', 2018
    MoMu Antwerp | Stany Dederen
  • Wiesi Will, 'Air Dancers', 2018
    MoMu Antwerp | Stany Dederen

The intuitive or militant use of textiles – a material traditionally associated with commerce and industry – put pressure on the stark distinction between fine arts and applied arts. 

It was precisely because of the sexist association of textiles with 'women's work' or 'decoration', that feminist artists used it to denounce the balance of power within the art world.

A momumental installation with knotting-, netting- and braiding techniques in cotton.
Liberta Ferket, Treurend vangnet, 1975

Belgian artists such as Veerle Dupont, Suzannah Olieux, Hetty Van Boekhout, Liberta Ferket and Edith Van Driessche also expressed themselves in textiles during this era. Their oeuvres form an exceptional component of MoMu's collection. Also shown in the exhibition is the work of the better known Belgian-Polish artist Tapta, whose work is part of the collection of Verbaet, a private collection of Belgian modern art produced after the war.

Tubular structures in wood that are wrapped in thread in multi-colour gradations.
Tapta, Horizon Flexibles, 1976
Photo: Vesna Faassen

Although these artists often worked at the margins of the art world, their continual efforts were crucial for textiles to become an accepted medium in contemporary art.

In "Soft?", MoMu will present work by this first generation for the first time in dialogue with contemporary artists such as Kati Heck, Nel Aerts, Anton Cotteleer, Sven ‘t Jolle, Klaas Rommelaere, Christoph Hefti, Stéphanie Baechler, Ermias Kifleyesus, Gommaar Gilliams, Wiesi Will and Kirstin Arndt.

This younger generation expresses themselves unapologetically and freely in textiles, often combined with other media. This sense of freedom is owed to the battle fought by that first generation, as well the changing perception of art criticism where the quality of an artwork has little to do with style or medium, but all to do with artistic intention.

"Soft?" is about the freedom with which artists move between various media, about unexpected textile applications, about tactility and aversion, about the textures and the skin of sculptures.

This sculpture by Anton Cotteleer merges a human figure with two geese. A fascinating layer of felt forms the skin of the sculpture. This velvet-like texture is at once appealing and repellant.
Anton Cotteleer, Proberen de goede ganzenhouder te zijn, 2012
Photo: Anton Cotteleer

"Soft?" route
In October 2018,  PLUS-ONE GalleryGallery Sofie Van de Velde, ABC Klubhuis and DMW Art Space will also join "Soft?", and five unexpected installations in window displays by young artists enter into dialogue with passers-by in the Lange Leemstraat.


Kati Heck, Dreimal Selbst mit Magier, 2016. Poto: Courtesy Tim Van Laere Gallery
Kati Heck, Schutzengel of Painting, 2015. Photo: Courtesy Tim Van Laere Gallery
Nel Aerts, Ontmaskerd Maske, Edition of 20, 2017. Photo: We Document Art
Christoph Hefti, Animal Mask, 2016. Photo: Courtesy Maniera

Exhibition under the lead of
Curator: Elisa De Wyngaert


It is possible to book a group tour for this exhibition


There is a also a guided tour available for secondary school pupils and students in higher education.