Unconstrained Textiles: Stitching Methods, Crossing Ideas is an exhibition which proposes an alternative way of learning about textile(s) and art in the form of an open-ended patchwork. It aims to present a broader possibility of textile materials, subject matters and techniques through diverse practices by 7 prominent contemporary artists. The artists in the exhibition do not identify as textile artists whose works focus on the tactile materiality of textile(s), evolving colours, forms and patterns, rather, they discover textile materials, subject matters and techniques almost through their artistic experiments, deploying them for their respective artistic concerns and goals.
As a defined category or artistic genre, textile art has been discussed in relation to craft, design and gendered, often female, works, adding to the ongoing scholarship on interdisciplinary studies and critical discourses in fine art. In the longstanding tradition of textile art, its rigid categorical classification is inevitable and which has sometimes hindered textile element from coming into prominence in non-textile art.
The intention of Unconstrained Textiles: Stitching Methods, Crossing Ideas is not to subvert the taxonomical classification of and the accumulated discussions on textile art, but to propose room for new ways of thinking about textile(s) and to broaden the discussion of textile’s contribution to art in general by examining contemporary artworks through a textile lens. To honour each of the 7 featured artists and their respective artistic practices, and to offer visitors the space to contemplate on their individual explorations of textile(s), this exhibition is designed to provide sufficient space for all artists so that they can present their body of works realised by their tireless artistic exercises.
Extracting diverse textile elements from the exhibited artworks, the whole exhibition forms a kind of patchwork, stitching together pieces of fabric with different colours and textures. The exhibited works show myriad artistic adaptations of textile(s) to accomplish aesthetic, experimental and political objectives. Byron Kim and Kato Izumi employ textile techniques such as dyeing and stitching to achieve their envisioned colours, forms and textual surfaces whilst Ham Kyungah commissioned fine embroidery made by North Korean artisans to show her political concerns, specifically on the broken communication between South and North Korea. Bi Rongrong plays with the resemblances between architectural features and textile patterns, applying them to her carpet, hanging and video works. David Medalla offers a scroll of fabric as a participatory platform, inviting visitors to either embroider or stitch their personal souvenirs or stories to the fabric to incorporate their microcosmic personal visions into the penultimate collective sculpture. Reflecting and responding to labourers’ painful experiences in factories and questioning the boundary between human and machine, Kawita Vatanajyankur transforms her body into machines, mimicking the mechanical movements that take place in textile industrial processes. Samson Young uses whimsical fabrics and custom-made costumes as a significant component to achieve his ideal aesthetic quality as well as a visual language to illustrate his artistic vision in his performances and installations.