The subversive stitch
Centro Grau-Garriga de Arte Textil Contemporáneo, Barcelona, ES
06.11.2021 – 27.03.2022
Collection. Issue 1.Expo - Sant Cugat City Council © Source: https://www.santcugat.cat/web/centregraugarriga-exposicions
According to anthropologists, one of the oldest cultural activities was textile making, with an antiquity of between 100,000 and 500,000 years. Its history has always been closely linked to the evolution of the forms of production and the relationship of these forms with successive social formations: first, the natural mobility of the fragments of tissues allowed the development of trade, in a cultural transit that constituted for centuries an uninterrupted exchange of techniques and signs; then, it played a decisive role in the deployment of the capitalist system, both in the production of early wool exported from Flanders to the rest of Europe and in the mechanization of cotton yarn in the Industrial Revolution in England; finally conceptual commissioner Sethe Sigelaub - who spent his last years at the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles - recalled that Charles Babbage's inspiration for the start of his theories that would give rise to the invention of modern computing came from the Jacquard loom. Textile has been established throughout history as a technological exchanger with the effects of social transformation and cultural revolution.
At the same time, textile work has always been perceived as an intensive, slow and meticulous task, devalued as a female domestic task. Its production processes, linked to the interior and nature, make the fabric intrinsically marked by ethnicity, class and gender. Its fundamental role during the centuries of modernity as a vehicle for the development of taste - in the practices of distinction in clothing, but also in the materiality of domestic environments - were preparing the ground for it to gradually move from handicrafts private to the public sphere, as evidenced by the importance of the decorative tapestry in the avant-garde of the twentieth century.
For all this, when in the 60s the artists of the Third Wave of Feminism began to claim their cultural contribution, their history was transformed forever: the role of textiles became a space of political positioning, in a contradictions before the status quomasculine that brought him back to the regime of contemporaneity. Traditional work became a transgressive way of correcting the course of cultural evolution, inserting a matrilineal legacy into art histories that came to answer in some way the question Linda Nochlin had posed in 1971.: "Why weren't there great women artists?". In fact, the title of this exhibition is a tribute to the pioneering book by feminist Rozsika Parker: The Subversive Stitch. Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine, published in 1984.
Text and textile share etymological origin: the Latin verb texere, that is, weaving or interlacing. In fact, its tradition is linked to the condition of non-verbal language, where all fabric is a form of representation. The pieces in this exhibition, from the collections of the Museo Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo –Ca2M Collection and Fundación ARCO Collection–, allow us to trace a history of the use of textiles in contemporary art from the 70s to the present. From late modern or formalist aesthetic practice to a vehicle of rage and political indignation, from productions that review the symbolic charge of their materials or figurative references, to the autobiographical statement, to even stop at the aesthetic forms of columatic trauma. The richness of technical and significant possibilities demonstrates the importance in the texture of the contemporary of understanding tradition as a selective tool in which to investigate to recompose its stories beyond a linear time of progress and with the complexity of the fibers intersecting in premeditated knots, twists, and cuts. The exhibition incorporates the living tradition of the CA2M Museum with the group "Tejiendo Móstoles". These weavers revive every Wednesday morning for several years the transmission of knowledge marujos with their bodies and have also made us understand the need to raise how this manual work is a fundamental task of social fabric. Serve this exhibition as a tribute from another form of memory, the one built with our collections, but also as a collective gratitude that puts its practice at the heart of this museum.
Artists: Caroline Achaintre, Nora Aurrekoetxea, Mercedes Azpilicueta, Leda Catunda, Victoria Gil, Josep Grau-Garriga, Arturo Herrera, Julia Huete, Gabriel Kuri, Cristina Lucas, Teresa Margolles, Ana de Matos, Asunción Molinos Gordo, Tejiendo Móstoles, Sonia Navarro, Nohemí Pérez, Laure Prouvost, Belén Rodríguez and Yinka Shonibare.
The exhibited works are part of the Fundación ARCO Collection and the Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, CA2M, Collection all posted at the CA2M, in the city of Móstoles, Madrid, except the collective work Weaving Móstoles that is the property of this group.
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08172 Sant Cugat del Vallés, Barcelona, ES