Born in 1967 in a small Austrian town. When she was three years old her family moved to Tunis, where she attended kindergarten and primary school. Her teacher there termed her a “petite diable”. After three years the family returned to the small town. For the rest of her life, she would remember the gloomy, damp chill that greeted her upon her arrival there. After completing her secondary school diploma, with a special provision allowing her to do her final exams in both music and art, she received a scholarship for the Summer Academy in Salzburg. This move signaled her decision to pursue a career in the visual arts.
She then completed a program in interior design at a nearby arts and trades school, which led her to develop a lasting aversion to furniture showrooms and the provincialism of Austria.
Subsequently she moved on to Vienna, the country's only urban alternative, where she failed the entrance examination at the Academy. She studied art history, German and journalism, enthusiastically sharing an apartment with three men who liked to cook and maintaining a large circle of friends. After a second unsuccessful attempt at the entrance exam she enrolled in a teacher's college, majoring in German and art. A third failed try at the exam plunged her into a deep crisis, which she hoped to overcome through traveling. With a fellow student, who later ended up at the UNHCR, she planned to hitch a ride to Yemen. The couple, however, could not find a captain in Port Said who would take them on board. Thus they decided to remain in Egypt. After a few days, her travel companion was getting on her nerves so badly that she looked for an alternative, finding it in a young man who happened to be sitting in the hotel cafe studying football scores in the Kronen Zeitung, a Viennese tabloid. She crisscrossed Egypt with him, returning to Austria in autumn to commence her studies. The man who had accompanied her died mysteriously two days after her departure. All that returned to Vienna was his backpack with his diaries, which his mother gave to her, and an urn. This deepened her crisis.
To take advantage of the opportunity to do life drawing with a model, she sat in at the Academy's entrance exam. To her surprise, she was admitted this time.
Due to her personal experience with the absurdity of such a selection process, she would always remain skeptical toward the academy model of art education. After completing training as a secondary school teacher, she taught migrant children and continued her studies at the Academy. She used any and every opportunity to get away from the life of study and work, and thus spent a half year in Cairo. It cost her so much energy that she later decided to live and study there for a year.
She also spent a half year studying painting in Maastricht, and again attended Summer Academies in Salzburg. This did more for her than five years of studying art. Bored stiff by the realities of everyday school teaching, she went to Cairo for another year. She would spend years working through her Egyptian experiences and influences, both artistically and intellectually.
After returning to Vienna, she taught at her old school three days a week, making peace with her origins. Four days of the week she lived happily with her flatmates and continued her studies of painting and graphics. She received work grants for Rome/Italy, Český Krumlov/Czech Republic and Malo/Italy, as well as numerous prizes and awards. It was for her textile work in particular that she became known as an artist. After finishing her diploma she was recruited to head the screen-printing studio of a fashion school. Alongside her professional life she also completed a university program for textile/art and design, whereby she also taught as a guest professor at the institute she was attending. On the occasion of the 100th International Women's Day she invited women artists onto a pink carpet, rolled out in front of museums and public culture spaces. The idea was to demonstrate their work and their right to equal presence. The carpet project spread to many other countries during subsequent years. She succeeded in developing an international network of creative and artistic women. Numerous exhibitions, performances and workshops took place within the framework of the network, which also ran a job bourse. Many female artists and creative women found it to be a source of support and inspiration. The carpet became the symbol a worldwide movement that was named after her.
(Translation Christopher Barber)