Cultural Threads, Textile Museum

Celio Braga Memory Unsettled
Memory Unsettled, Celio Braga, detail, 2016, photo

Textile Museum commisions new works

In 2018 the Textielmuseum at Tilburg (the Netherlands), asked four Dutch artists to develop new works in cooperation with their TextielLab. Leading inspiration for the museum was the book Cultural Threads by Jessica Hemmings (2014).

Some artists unraveled histories and searched for their own identities. Others adressed socio-political issues, like war and slavery.

Célio Braga

Some works of this exhibition were especially appealing to me. First of all the work of the Brazilian artist Célio Braga. His piece Memory Unsettled (2016) is kind of an installation and it incorporates a lot of (machine) embroidery.

It tells about the fragility of the body and refers to the AIDS crisis in the eighties. Célio combines old pieces of clothing with stuff that helps the body to stay healthy, like medicine baskets & soap. The embroidery contains 16th and 17th century Dutch and Brazilian symbols. And words from poems of Thom Gunn, which are related to the health problems in the eighties.

Celio Braga Memory Unsettled
Memory Unsettled, Célio Braga, 2016, photo
Memory Unsettled, detail, embroidered medicine bottle, photo

Eylem Aladogan

Another work that especially struck me, is the work Red Thread from Eylem Aladogan. She’s inspired by the Ottoman empire, she has a connection to that area because her father is a Kurdish-Turkish immigrant. Eylem made a (kind of) kaftan in different shades of red. The color red refers to blood, to emphasize the terror of lost life and loss in the empire. At the same time Eylem lets new life sprout, by golden branches, growing out of the kaftan. The pink background resembles the mountain landscape through which the refugees fled.

Red Thread, Eleym Alagodan, 2018, photo
refugees flee through mountains, photographer unknown

The branches look like embroidered yarn. In reality they are made of some kind of gel, hardened in a mold. For the mold embroidered threads were used to design it.

Red Thread, detail of kaftan, branches, photo

Jennifer Tee

Another artist exhibited, Jennifer Tee, having a half Chinese Indonesian background, shows three woven textile prints and three digital embroidered prints. They are inspired by Tampan and Papelai textiles of Indonesia, known as “ship clothes” for Europeans travelling from Indonesia to Europe.

These textiles in Indonesia originally were displayed and used at social ceremonies, like birth and death, marriages and circumcisions. Jennifer states that the act of traveling is a “physically and mentally important metaphorical binding thread”. Mirrored imagery plays a central role in her work. In Mirrored Ship the mirroring associates first with burial rights and with later stages in life which, suggest a sense of protection.

Jennifer Lee tampan mirrored shio
Tampan mirrored ship, Jennifer Lee, detail, photo
Tampan mirrored ship, Jennifer Lee, 2018, photo
embroidery, Folk Museum, Rethimnon, Crete, Greece, photo

Someway this work reminded me of a Cretan piece of embroidery I saw this year in the folk museum of Rhetymnon, Greece. The mirroring… the angels and lines… See above.

New sampler room

A new “attraction” of the museum is their sampler room, it opened recently. At the moment the room is filled with background information about this exhibition.To me this room only was worth coming! I have seen video’s about artist telling about their work and I have seen drawings and photos. But the nicest thing was the possibility to touch textile samplers and look at them closely. I felt like a child in a candy shop, what a lovely feeling.

Cultural Threads is still on until May 19, 2019. If you have the chance…. go there!

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