Janet Passehl: Here Is Why

March 2, 2024
- April 9, 2024


Number 15 and 17
Hand-woven cotton draped on aluminum rods, hung from cotton string, all arranged in a room

Dimensions are of the space in which the elements are installed
Signed, dated, and titled on attached tag
(Inventory #36553)


Janet Passehl’s newest work is equal parts
• Weaving (she makes her own cloth on a loom)
• Sculpture (she chooses length, width, height, apparatuses for hanging, distance between, above, below and around the elements, among a myriad other actions and decisions)
• Installation (the choices are made and/or altered in response to the presentation location and situated particularly within the space)
• Immersion (the work is not ‘merely’ the fabric hanging from the rods and string, but the engagement with the elements in the room that which a viewer becomes more sensitive to on account of the specificity of Passehl’s actions)


“I first saw Janet Passehl’s work in a solo exhibition in 2001. For many years, I observed how she traveled with her works and, in situ, meticulously arranged her cut, folded, ironed, and layered fabrics. In her exhibition at Tibaldi Arte Contemporanea in Rome in 2022 and then in a studio visit, I realized that the work had changed not only visually but how it “felt.” This coincided with Passehl’s process and results being “lighter.” What I mean by this is that while her earlier works would change over time and through travels, Passehl had now arrived at a mode that, while utilizing all that she had explored prior, allowed for an incredibly confident openness to the world. Where once the importance lay in the precision of the density and sharpness of creases, layers, and slices, now the power lay in a confident openness to chance, situation, and interaction. The irregularities of the weft are now incidents to observe, not to control. They are also maps for how one can think about relationships more generally, whether that of the woven fabric to the room or a viewer’s awareness to the experience. The lightness of the fabrics, their gently visible undulations and wrinkles, and the loose threads that continually try to get free can’t help but provide a universe of exploration for the eye, heart, and mind.

— Andrew Witkin


“Nuance, time, duration, light, gravity, space, materiality, the act of paying close attention. These are my concerns, explored through simple acts performed on plain cloth: folding, ironing, cutting, draping, hanging. I work with cloth for its universal familiarity. I collaborate with the nature of the material, rather than impose upon it. While each of my works is a discrete piece, my inclination leans toward installation and conversation among the works, and between the works and the space they occupy.

— Janet Passehl



In addition to the presentation of “Number 15 and 17,” the exhibition also consists of a new booklet of the artist’s poem, “Net(s) set to enclose game,” newly published as a hand-bound book in an edition of 100 (available for $20):

Net(s) set to enclose game
Handsewn 16-page book with one hand-stamped figure

Edition of 100
8 3/4 x 5 inches (22.2 x 12.7 cm)
Cover design by Chris Passehl
Published by Krakow Witkin Gallery, Boston
Initialed and numbered on the colophon
(Inventory #36554)



Passehl has exhibited at galleries in New York City including the Drawing Center, Zürcher Gallery, ODETTA, and 57W57Arts. Additionally, her work has been shown at the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Tang Museum, Mass MoCA, Tegnerforbundet in Oslo and Stalke Gallery in Copenhagen. She is represented in several museum and private collections. Passehl is also a writer. In 2019, her visual art and poetry were featured together for the first time in States and Senses in Sydney, Australia. This was her fourth exhibition in that country. In 2021, her poetry was featured as an audio installation in The Feuilleton: I Will Bear Witness, in an abandoned news stand in Spoleto, Italy. Passehl is the author of the poetry collection Clutching Lambs (Negative Capability Press, 2014).


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