Johanna Tiedtke


January 19th- March 3rd 2019


“What if silence were rendered as material, and what if that material accumulated over time, like sediment? And what if there were persons who worked as archeologists or archivists of silence, finding it in unexpected places, distinguishing between the silence of attention and the silence of repression, the silence of omission and of commission; silence among the living and silence of the dead? Our sense of transparency and invisibility would be altered; our understanding of the mute world of dreams and graves, of rooms and their objects, paintings, and chairs, of history itself, would be reconfigured, and the abstract noun, silence, would be given a new taxonomy to locate and define the myriad ways in which it has occurred through the ages.




Silence cannot be copied because it has no original. Each instance is unique, framed by the noise of the world, birds and bombs, voices and machines, contingent always on the actual space or place in which it occurs. Silence can exaggerate; it can be pregnant with the unsaid, and the unsaid easily registers as the forgotten or omitted. Indeed, history is pregnant with all that has not been mentioned; with the shame of omission, of turning away. We live on these stepping-stones on which we cross the terrains of life, but all around us are depths and breaches, quicksands and currents of uncountable and unaccountable histories that have never been submitted to the human desire to leave physical marks of presence. Johanna Tiedtke’s aged great-aunt, suffering from dementia, makes an embroidery. This embroidery is the emblem of her presence, even as it attests to her increasing absence. Her mind may no longer give forth thoughts, but her hands remember how to sew.”


Ann Lauterbach, ‘Rescuing Silence’, 2015