DIALOGUE WITH MATERIALS AND TIME
Beatriz Oggero is an accomplished textile artist and teacher. Born in Uruguay and now living in Cochabamba, Bolivia, she’s a child of two very strong textile cultures.
She claims to have a hard time answering the routine question, “what do you do for a living?” Yet, what she does was presented at a recent retrospective show featuring an installation of miniatures in an impressive array of textile techniques, plus a transparent tapestry knitted with two needles, made of 400 copper wire rectangles and color gauze.
In principle, we could say she uses tools such as time, rhythm, contrast, structure, and transparency. Not everything she does is an expression of gender, but neither can we forget she’s a woman: feminine elements appear to underline her work, especially in her conceptual reasoning.
Obsessed with time, she views the material aspect of work in terms of the time it contains: time to spin, time to dye, time to weave, stretch, wash, iron, sew…time,time,time…it’s also the time of a woman involved in these textile activities, which makes her identify with ancestral and primal textile endeavors from way back in Andean history.
Beatriz has been “at it” since 1980, when she studied with maestro Ernesto Aroztegui, the Tapestry Father of Uruguay. She had studied Art and Art History and had begun to work as a teacher, when her country was overtaken by the military regime known as The Process (El Proceso), and educated people were thrown out of their professions. Being forced to stay home she pursued sewing as a hobby. She made her children’s clothing, and later on decided to learn to weave, too.
In 1982 she was one of the founders of CETU (Center for Uruguayan Tapestry), which later became the Center for Textile Art of Uruguay since many artists evolved from solely Gobelin to mixed-media textiles. She later became President of this institution from 1986 to 1990 and organized two mini-textile international encounters, and in 1991 was invited to lead and develop the textile section at the Center for Industrial Design of Uruguay.
Today, in Bolivia, Beatriz weaves with copper wire and various types of threads. She enjoys both mini-textile and large format tapestry techniques, and despite the variety of techniques employed, her style is recognized and respected throughout Latin America for its transparency and pliable look. Beatriz is known to manipulate wire as if it were cotton!
—Silvia Piza-Tandlich, translation