RAGS TO RICHESSE CAVIN-MORRIS GALLERY 1
EXHIBITION MAY 20-AUGUST 2O, 2010
SPECIAL THANKS TO: GEBHART BLAZEK AXEL STEINMANN MARIKO TANAKA
RAGS TO RICHESSE TEXT BY RANDALL MORRIS, GEBHART BLAZEK, AXEL STEINMANN PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF GEBHART BLAZEK CATALOG DESIGN BY MARIKO TANAKA © 2010 CAVIN-MORRIS GALLERY Reproduction of any text, illustration, in whole or in part is
forbidden without the publisher’s prior written permission.
RAGS TO RICHESSE At Cavin-Morris Gallery we have always been fascinated by and involved with what indigenous artists are doing NOW. Times change and culture shifts quickly. Yesterday’s carnival grounds are today’s wastelands. Life drifts toward the cities. Very little stays the same. Culture is a changeling and, as 9/11 showed us Culture can change in a manner of minutes. For less privileged people, recycling scrap materials becomes a strategy of survival. There is no country in the world we do not see some form of reworking something made with one idea in mind into another utilitarian function. When the recyclist is creative or inspired the work jumps the barriers into our world of Art. From the boros and sakiori rugs of Japan to the Gee’s Bend quilts of the United States to the sculptures of Kevin Sampson and the quilts of Zimbabwe the cast off is continually cast back in by the creative mind. It is a covert process. It is double-tiered. It is cultural resistance. It is using the broken mirrors of the over-culture to manifest and declare present the being and body of the subculture. It is a natural form of poetic and social irony. It was only natural we were attracted to these rugs. The beautifully intuitive eye of Gebhardt Blazek had opened us to the transcendent beauties of other Moroccan textiles. But these are even more on the wild side. These rugs are chronic carriers of delight. They stop the eye and hold it and if the viewer is open enough he or she will be drawn into a rich and spicy taste of the Numinous. Rags to Richesse is an exhibition about culture renewing itself. In communities where nomadic life and herding is being exchanged for processed farming, and original materials like wool are becoming scarcer, the concept of recycling becomes a paramount mode of survival.
Boucherouite refers to a form of rag from rural areas of Morocco created from wool, cotton, synthetic fibers, Lurex, Nylon and plastic. The change to these materials began in the 1960's and 70's. What is especially unique about them is the wild poetry of their compositions; they are part of and beyond tradition from no one region. Thus, the rugs are woven in a creative, improvisatory style by the weavers whose choice of colors and textures gives the rugs the feeling of painting. They are a new cultural form created from necessity meeting personal aesthetics. The world is naturally postmodern. However the supreme intention of these artists is utilitarian. In a very odd way as well these pieces are a liberation from tradition at the same time that they uphold it. But there are no rules. There is no way to look at a rug and pinpoint exactly where it comes from. They are Pan-Moroccan. There is a quiet but very important side bar to these rugs as well. They are made by women. They are a declaration of creative freedom by Amazigh women. They are personal visions of inner and outer gender topography uncapped by male participation. They are wordless and soundless and inchoate. Yet they are visually musical. They have rhythms and anti rhythms, syncopation and improvisation dictating abstract moods by the saw-edged mixtures of colors. They are inner landscapes. They unpack the essences of female Place. Cavin-Morris is pleased to introduce these to the New York art community in collaboration with Gebhart Blazek. By Randall Morris May 2010
BOUCHEROUITE Moroccan Rag Rugs
Anyone familiar with the lively Moroccan rug and carpet market will have noticed the emergence in recent years of a previously little known type of “rag rug” called Boucherouite or Boucherwit. From the Moroccan Arabic “bu sherwit” is apiece torn from pre-used clothing or scrap, which marks the (provisional) end of a development in which the traditional materials used for weaving (mainly sheep’s wool) are rapidly being augmented and substituted. This development is an inevitable consequence of widespread economic, social and cultural changes in Morocco’s rural areas with the move away from nomadic animal husbandry to settled farming and other modern forms of rural employment. Wool as the primary raw material for the production of carpets for Moroccan domestic use has become ever rarer, and replacement materials have become ever more important. The materials used include recycled rag strips and yarns from a variety of ‘found’ textile remnants including wool, cotton, synthetic fibers, Lurex, nylon and plastic. This development started during the 1960s and 1970s in the plains – mainly settled by Arabs – around the towns of Beni Mellal and Boujad. From about 1990, the making of rugs and carpets with the most diverse substitute materials and in a style largely liberated from traditional models gained acceptance even in remote Berber tribal areas of the higher Middle and High Atlas mountain regions. Unlike the situation with traditional knotted-pile carpets made before the 1950s and 1960s, which were primarily devoted to regional stylistics, no conclusions as to the regional origin of these ‘rag rugs’ can be drawn on the basis of either technical characteristics or specific stylistic features. The attribution to Boujad, a term often heard in the marketplace, is therefore misleading for these rugs insofar as, although they are certainly close to rugs from the Boujad region from the second half of the 20th century in
their highly individual style that is free from all rules, nowadays they are made all over Morocco in a very similar fashion. If one focuses on the unusual materials used to make these rugs, which -like traditional sleeping carpets â€“ were produced for domestic requirements without any commercial intention, then the best examples reveal an incredible creative vitality, an adaptive continuation of Moroccan textile culture using contemporary means.
By Gebhart Blazek/ Axel Steinmann Published in BOUCHEROUITE Exhibition Catalog Graz, 2009
CRAZY RAG RUGS FROM MOROCCO Sensory human beings One of these days some of us may come to the irrevocable understanding that we owe the essential part of our acquired knowledge and view of the world less to our teachers and the culture in which we grew up than to the diverse experiences rooted in the connection, which we once, as a child, had with nature. For a child, the world into which it is thrown is reduced to that which he or she sees, feels, tastes, hears and touches with their senses. We touch matter with our hands; it rings in our ears or makes our skin crawl; it dazzles our eyes, fills our mouth: solid, fluid, gaseous matter, acoustic or shining, raw, porous or silky. The given fact penetrates the sensorium and descends through the arteries and muscles, nerves and bones to the tips of the nails. There is nothing in the senses that does not subsequently goes towards culture.
We come into the world as sensory human beings, but only a few remain so. Occasionally oneâ€™s own creative activity coincides with art, not forgetting the feelings that we have springing from primary impressions such as colors, sounds, tastes, smells and pain. Bit by bit, due to their activity, the senses engender body and soul. The surrounding world teaches the individual to understand his own nature more or less as a detached fragment, and shows the whole from which he comes. Like a rag rug, the ego is made up of pieces and fragments. Human beings find a sense of self through the familiar surroundings of the group, from worldly preoccupations and the landscape around them, finding the material to take form, to formulate themselves. In the flow of time Observation of nature permits one to understand how time flows. The first mild afternoon in May, a foggy December morning, mountains shrouded in cloud, solstice and equinox, decelerations and accelerations, freezing and thawing; here the waters flow, there they collect. Nature tells of rhythms and orchestrates reality into a kind of symphony, the
sequences of which are also well known to the wives of the shepherds and farmers of Morocco. Time begins in rhythm. It flows like the rivers and mountain streams that pour by, pause, rise, divide, join together or peter out. Once the play of time has been grasped, experimentation leads to contemplation of the infinitesimal and the cosmological, to comprehension of the infinitely small and the infinitely large logics that are active in space. The fractal form is recognized, the quality of self-resemblance, the part representing the whole, the fragment as an expression of the entirety: a fern’s form is repeated in a leaf, which appears in turn, on a reduced scale, on one of its side branches; details are considered from nature’s universal construction plans. Here a fissured relief, there a smooth surface, fine granulations, the interplay of colors, perfumes, sounds and noises. In this way worlds can be invented, bizarre universes created, through which one travels with the soul, which keep the mind moving and enrich the power of the imagination. Sensations Regardless of the relevant economic system, in the Mediterranean region there have always been a few fundamental objectives largely shared by the local population groups. Among these are the numerous precautionary measures taken to prevent one’s living area being overlooked and to remove women from the gaze of strange men, with the intention of protecting their honor (or that of their men folk). This contrast between the public and private realm, between male and female zones, provides the Amazigh women of Morocco’s farming and nomadic class with a degree of “free space” in which they can express their own views on life in textile art but within the prevailing social norms that regulate human relationships. Thus in the social scenario of the household these social traditions make everyday space viable, visibly materializing a specific way of life, an art de vivre. In the seclusion of the home the women concern themselves with the basics of the social fabric: with the body and its physical well being, with its health, its beautification. A body that is symbolically multiplied: by tattoos which give the body an initial social identity; by pottery (built up free-hand, without a potter’s wheel) with its practical and/or ritual functions, repeating the image of the “body-as-container”; and by weaving, perhaps the most complete and artistic “extension” of the ego. Like a symphony, with the 11
help of strips of remnants of recycling material, synthetic fibers, Lurex, nylon and plastic, the female weavers of today compose their color-fast, variegated time/spaces, since it is time itself which bears their memory, a memory that they wrest from varied oblivion, a memory that makes it possible for them to return to the darkness of time and of the body, to the hidden origins of topology, to the beginnings, where the sense of vision is absorbed into the sense of touch, where the delicate, sensitive sense of touch sees, smoothes and separates the surface composition. Origins, which lie a whole age, further back than the arrival of words and writing (even if their emergence is heralded). The weaver is never concerned with imitation of the nature that surrounds her, with the mere rendering of perceptions, but rather with percepts, with bundles of sensations and relationships. In her work she creates sensory aggregates, weaves or knots. A composition results, which is her work on the sensation. No imitation, no experienced sympathy, no imaginary identification, no resemblance, although there is a resemblance but this is purely produced. Everything (including the technique) takes place between the complexes of sensations and the aesthetic compositional level. The weaver always designs a compositional level that, for its part, conveys an amalgamation of sensations under the influence of aesthetic figures or devices. But not the sensation or impression of a tree, mountain, river, time, sound, aroma or movement, but that of the concept of a tree, the concept of time, the concept of movement etc.
By Axel Steinmann Published in BOUCHEROUITE Exhibition Catalog Graz, 2009
Untitled, Late 20th C., Rag, 120 x 60 inches, 304.8 x 152.4 cm, Mor 78
Morocco, Untitled, Late 20th C., Rag, 56 x 125 inches, 142.2 x 317.5 cm, Mor 79
Untitled, Late 20th C., Rag, 45 x 75 inches, 114.3 x 190.5 cm, Mor 81
Untitled , Late 20th C., (Industrial) Recycled Fibers, 34 x 68 inches, 86.4 x 172.7 cm, Mor 82
Untitled , Late 20th C., (Industrial) Recycled Fibers, 36 x 79 inches, 91.4 x 200.7 cm, Mor 83
Untitled, Late 20th C., (Industrial) Recycled Fibers, 67 x 30 inches, 170.2 x 76.2 cm, Mor 88
Untitled , Late 20th C., Rag, 77 x 42 inches, 195.6 x 106.7 cm, Mor 89
Untitled, Late 20th C., Industrial recycled fibers, recycled plastic, 35 x 22 inches, 88.9 x 55.9 cm, Mor 99
Untitled , Late 20th C., Industrial recycled fibers, recycled plastic< 42 x 25 inches< 106.7 x 63.5 cm, Mor 100
Untitled , Late 20 C.. Industrial recycled fibers, recycled plastic, 26 x 18 inches, 66 x 45.7 cm, Mor 104
Untitled , Late 19th C., Industrial recycled fibers, recycled plastic, 33 x 21 inches, 83.8 x 53.3 cm, Mor 105
Untitled , Late 20th C., Industrial recycled rag recycled plastic, 27 x 28 inches, 68.6 x 71.1 cm, Mor 109
(Industrial) Recycled Fibers, Rag, Late 20th C, 57 x 43.25 in, 145 x 110 cm, Mor 72
(Industrial) Recycled Fibers, Rag, Late 20th C, 92.5 x 39.5 in, 235 x 100 cm, Mor 54
(Industrial) Recycled Fibers, Rag, Late 20th C, 78.75 x 51.25 in, 200 x130 cm, Mor 74
(Industrial) Recycled Fibers, Rag, Late 20th C, 75 x 47.25 in,190 x 120 cm, Mor 67
(Industrial) Recycled Fibers, Rag, Late 20th C, 63 x31.5 in,160 x80 cm, Mor 62
(Industrial) Recycled Fibers, Rag, Late 20th C, 55.25 x35.5 in, 140 x 90cm, Mor 60
(Industrial) Recycled Fibers, Late 20th C., 102 x 27.5 inches (260 x 70 cm) Mor 48
Rag, Late 20th C., 78.75 x 61 inches (200 x 155 cm) Mor 50
Morocco, Untitled, Late 20th C, Rag, 78.74 x 35.43 inches (200 x 90 cm) Mor 65
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