Series: Dancing Bears
Motif: by Vladimir Leben
Type: Object
Technique: Mixed embroidery
Year: 2019 - ongoing
Edition: Limited (33)

Size: Medium
Dimension: 33.5 x 33.5 x 3 cm | 13.2 x 13.2 x 1.2 in
Number of stitches: over 700,000
Thread length: over 10 km | over 6.2 mi
Thread colours: 27
Development: over 300 person hours

Price: on request

About the artwork

With an art installation that is built on the satirical notion of bears enjoying music in a nightclub, it’s own soundtrack was its natural completion. A unique piece of music that speaks both, the story of the bears and is at the same time the very song that bears are dancing to. Ercigoj and Vladimir Leben approached the composer Aldo Kumar and composer/sound designer Sašo Kalan to compose and record the bear soundscape.

To connect the music with embroidered medium, the composers recorded sounds of embroidery machines and used them as the song’s beat. Music is both soothing and yet full of tension, mimicking a natural soundscape and human industrialization. It’s a perfect reflection of the dichotomy as real-world tragedy of abused bears is superimposed with satirical notion of bears, happily dancing under disco lights. Masterfully recorded and mixed, music is subtle in its beginning and increases in detail and power as it progresses, while beats fade in and fade away – as we were silently observing bears, dancing through forests, and the sounds are muffled by trees and undergrowth as the dance pasts us.

The music is recorded on heavy audiophile vinyl and played on the vintage turntable that is a part of the art installation. The vinyl has been enhanced with unique detail, an embroidered central label, which shows the disco ball from the main art piece from above. In addition, many-hued golden threads are embroidered with a unique technique, which creates an effect of each square on the disco ball reflecting light differently. This effect is emphasized even more when the vinyl is spinning on the turntable.

Ercigoj designed a unique box for safely storing the vinyl, which is an art piece on its own: it is CNC machined and padded on the inside for safe storage. It has an embroidered gatefold cover with a motif, based on cyan and red disco ball light reflections from the main art piece. The vinyl is limited to 33 1/3 pieces (where the 1/3 is the original one included with the Dancing Bears installation, and 33 pieces are available for purchase independently).

About the artist

Vladimir Leben is drawing moral lessons from animals as examples. He is not inspired by their outer appearance of furs and feathers – of their exact anatomy in a way a naturalist would be. Instead, he portrays them as protagonists in stylized situations that have coded meaning. For this a viewer has to know background of a particular story, often a tragic one. His favourite subjects are underdogs – usually in the appearance of bears and dogs. They are presented as sentient beings, man’s interlocutors and points of identification. Being soft animals with innocent eyes, helps them to get their message across, and builds viewers emotions and empathy.

Born in 1971 in Celje. Studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana. He is co-founder of the Museum of Too Modern Art – a unique movement in Slovenian art history. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions with Galapagos project as one of the most successful. He is also an awarded Illustrator and maker of animated films.


Extraordinary number of stitches

In a classic embroidery, the number of stitches is somewhere between 20,000 and 200,000, and is limited by stretching and contracting of materials. By overcoming this limitations, we are able to make embroideries with millions of stitches which enables us to produce photorealistic embroideries and recreate any painting of any artistic style.

Innovation of layering

We layer multiple colours of threads and so create rich embroidery and colour texture that is impossible to create with classic one-layer embroidery technique. By layering, we develop colour transitions and shadowing, by which we create multiple-colour surfaces, similar to pointillism painting.

Smooth transitions and shading

By intertwining threads of endless colours and creating colour transitions, we can shape soft shadows, make one surface transition into another and mix colours into an endless multitude of hues. This way, we can also recreate motives from photographs and sophisticated art paintings which wouldn’t be possible with classic embroidery technique, using vector surfaces.

Sophisticated colour calibration

Usually in embroidery, 10 or 20, maybe 30 colours of threads are used. We use around 1,000 colour hues and if a colour still doesn’t match the desired one, we create it by layering and colour transitions. We have digitally scanned colours of all threads by using a spectrograph, so we can colour match any colour from an original material or from CMYK, RGB or Pantone colour schemes.