The beastly and arrogant ones cites medieval texts describing protests and uprisings of craftspeople in the century after the Black Death (1347-1351). These texts are the few surviving traces of the uprisings and contain a wealth of bias, referring to protestors as “evil” “arrogant” and “driven by the spirit of the devil.” Their demands are against societal maladies which sound all too familiar—unhealthy working conditions, food shortages, unjust taxation (exemptions for the rich), low wages and seizure of land.
In reference to those artisans and the lower classes in general, forgotten by history, but crucial to understanding the present, Reutinger seeks to pull the viewer out of ambivalence and into a state of sensitivity to both the past and contemporary life. Deftly using different hand-crafting techniques, her hands-on approach to research involves a thorough reprocessing of archival texts, imagery, social histories and artifacts into her unique visual language. She repurposes materials, natural dyes, secondhand textiles, agricultural byproducts; quilts, sews, builds and assembles strange and affecting objects imbued with a sense of mystery and history.
Text by Shoshana Walfish