Museum arnhem threads catalogus

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De catalogus bestaat uit 25 verschillende edities: op elke editie verschijnt een afbeelding van een werk op de cover van een van de deelnemende kunstenaars aan Threads. Elk exemplaar is uniek! Daarnaast zijn alle kunstenaars met elkaar verbonden via hoogtelijnen in de catalogus. Als basis zijn de hoogtes van hun geboorteplaatsen gebruikt.







4 Foreword (Arnhem, NL)


6 Introduction (Arnhem, NL)


11 Faig Ahmed (1982 Baku, AZ)


13 Marie Julia Bollansée (1960 Pulderbos, BE)


15 Célio Braga (1963 Guimarânia, BR)


17 Tiffany Chung (1969 Danang, VN)


19 Julie Cockburn (1966 Londen, UK)


21 Kyriaki Costa (1971 Nicosia, CY)


23 Ana de la Cueva (1968 Guadalajara, MX)


25 Shezad Dawood (1974 Londen, UK)


27 Yael Davids (1968 Jeruzalem, IL)


29 Gluklya (1969 St.Petersburg, RU)


31 Nicholas Hlobo (1975 Kaapstad, ZA)


33 Merel Karhof (1978 Londen, UK)


35 Aisha Khalid (1972 Faisalabad, PK)


37 Fransje Killaars (1959 Maastricht, NL)


39 Kimsooja (1957 Taegu, KR)


41 Monali Meher (1969 Mumbai, IN)


43 Christien Meindertsma (1980 Utrecht, NL)


45 Almagul Menlibayeva (1969 Almaty, KZ)


47 Floor Nijdeken (1981 Apeldoorn, NL)


49 Barbara Polderman (1971 Wisch, NL)


51 Saad Qureshi (1986 Londen, UK)


53 Chiharu Shiota (1972 Osaka, JP)


55 Berend Strik (1960 Nijmegen, NL)


57 Lin Tianmiao (1961 Taiyuan, CN)


59 Remco Torenbosch (1982 Assen, NL)


60 Project Draadkracht & andere evenementen (Dutch) 62 Colophon

For some years there has been growing interest among artists in textile material as an autonomous visual element. Designers are combining traditional crafts with new materials and production techniques. These were important reasons for Museum Arnhem to turn the spotlight on that theme. Threads focuses on works in which threads or textiles are an element in reflections on social and socio-political issues. This is the first time that many of the work by 25 international artists and designers have been on show in the Netherlands. Material comprising threads / textiles would seem to have shed age-old connotations of decoration, cottage industry and feminine accomplishments. In view of the renewed interest, those connotations have been subject to closer scrutiny. The topic is acquiring fresh meaning, and textile as a social fabric is attracting more interest. Artists combine techniques like knitting, weaving, quilting and embroidery with photography, video and performances, thus arriving at a contemporary visual syntax. A syntax containing references to local and global traditions, techniques and connotations. The relation between art, design and society occupies an important place in Museum Arnhem’s exhibition and collection policy. Since the first Arnhem Fashion Biennale in 2005 and the founding of Modekern (a collaborative project between Museum Arnhem, Gelders Archief, Het Nieuwe Instituut and ArtEZ), fashion, and consequently, textile, has been a major interest in Museum Arnhem’s presentations. The relation between textile and social implications had been addressed previously in exhibitions like Get Real / Real Self (2011) and Six Yards (2012). The former targeted the relation between clothing, body language and identity. Six Yards focused on the role played by Vlisco fabrics, made in Helmond, the Netherlands, in the West-African market, displaying Vlisco fabric as a carrier of culture. In the Interlaced (2011) exhibition, South-African artist Berni Searle used transparent black fabric and gold leaf, amongst other things. Searle interrelated lace production and wealth by Western powers and their colonial history. In Threads we opted for installations, videos, collages and performances in which the use of threads and textiles can be interpreted as a metaphor for connections: between art and craft, between art and the public, and between personal and public themes. A great many activities have been organized round the exhibition: Museum Arnhem sought to add an extra dimension, with lectures, presentations, Stitch’n Bitch sessions, performances and the BOOM dance production. Outside the museum, we linked up with the programming and activities of other institutions and projects in Arnhem, including the Breikracht (knitting) project coinitiated by Arnhem Fashion Incubator and ArtEZ Institute for the Arts, and with Focus Film Theatre and Rozet. We again worked with secondary school teachers and pupils. They drew inspiration from Threads to work six months on that theme, the outcome of which was their presentation of Draadkracht (Threads) in Museum Arnhem.


We should like to take this opportunity to thank the participating artists for their tremendous commitment to this exhibition. We are also very grateful to all individuals and gallery owners for their generosity and trust in loaning works or liaising on behalf of the exhibition. During preparations for Threads we derived inspiration and pleasure from our work with interns Isabelle Bisseling, Dennis Bouma and Marie Stel. We greatly appreciate their efforts. And lastly, we owe special gratitude to all the funding bodies whose contributions made the exhibition and publication possible. Hedwig Saam, director Mirjam Westen, curator


The title and the concept for the Threads exhibition were inspired by the video Threads Routes (2010) by the South Korean Kimsooja which I first saw at Art Basel in 2011. I was carried away by the stunning pictures of colourful fabrics, the spinning of thread and the role of textiles in Peru. The video – which was part of her six-part series on textile production on all continents – evoked a picture of the wealth of local traditions and crafts and their great cultural significance. Yet all the silent images – no text or music was involved – seemed also to convey the loss or, rather, the silencing of those traditions. With the globalization and industrialization of textile production, regional knowledge is at risk of being lost, and the handing down of the craft to younger generations is being compromised. The idea for the exhibition was born. Although many an artist and designer has worked for decades with textiles – Kimsooja won international renown at the end of the eighties with her installations of ‘bottaris’ (textile bundles) – it is obvious that interest in Europe for textile material has been burgeoning in recent years. Symbolic meanings of patterns are being studied, there is interest in the relation between textile and identity, and in the social and community significance of textiles. Designers are combining traditional crafts with new materials and production techniques.

“Wo ‘Bindung’ und ‘Verknüpfung’ nicht kulturtechnisch bewältigt sind, kann es auch keine Kultur geben“ – Hartmut Bohme

Is this renewed interest in tangible materials related to the progressive virtualization of our society? Do we still need objects to be tactile and ‘concrete’ in this virtual age? Since the late 1980s growing interest in textiles is also closely related to growing interest in artisanal techniques. A reappraisal of crafts, traditional techniques and natural materials occurred in the wake of the debate on the environment and the declining quality of massproduced goods. Since postmodernism, the visual arts world has set great store by terms like cross-border and interdisciplinary. The borders between the disciplines and between ‘high’ art, folk art and popular (mass) culture are becoming increasingly blurred, the result of which is a reappraisal of artisanal techniques and textiles.

At the Dutch art academies the textile departments were assimilated into the ‘Monumental’ or ‘Three-dimensional’ art programmes. With a shift of emphasis as a result. Technique was no longer the starting point, but the expressivity of the material in relation to the concept. And finally, a significant explanation for the reappraisal of textiles in western art might well be found in the increased interest in non-western art and cultures. There, a hierarchical distinction rarely exists between the visual arts and the applied arts as has been the case in western countries until recently. The fact remains, in Europe there have been countless artists and designers in the last fifty years who certainly have questioned the dividing line between art and applied art, considering threads and textiles to be significant expressive elements. Nowadays their work is perceived quite differently. REAPPRAISAL There is renewed recognition for the monumental art objects with which artists in the seventies like Sheila Hicks (1934), Magdalena Abakanovich (1930) and Ferdi Tajiri (1927-1969) in the sixties, and Anna Verweij (1935-1980) (‘action paintings in appliqué techniques) made an impact. Artists in the international 6

Fiber Art, Fluxus and Minimal Art movements investigated textile material as an autonomous expressive element. Feminist artists in the seventies and eighties used threads and textiles in performances and installations to overturn gender-specific connotations of textiles, such as ‘cottage industry’ and ‘womanly arts’. They wanted to upgrade so-called typical ‘feminine’ handwork to a visual art form in its own right. Not only were material and techniques upgraded, the collective process was also emphasized. The strategy of ‘working together’ was deployed to unite women, with empowerment as the objective. The American artist Suzanne Lacy (1945) is one example: with her The Crystal Quilt project (1985-1987) she brought together hundreds women of over 60 to work jointly on a huge patchwork. Lacy’s project served as a platform for the exchange of experiences, with a view to giving the women a voice, thus challenging stereotype ideas about older women. Textile as a socially-bonding medium is also found in the Aids Memorial Quilt (1987) which travelled from town to town in America for many years. Next-of-kin of Aids victims made quilts in remembrance of their loved ones. All the quilts were sewn together into a gigantic patchwork which, in turn, encouraged people to talk publicly about the disease. There are countless examples, also from the nineties, of artists, including the Swiss artist twins, Christine and Irene Hohenbüchler (1964), who embarked on prolonged collaborative projects, for example with amateurs or disabled people. Starting in the nineties, a great many artists, including Cosima von Bonin, Michael Raedecker, Louise Bourgeois, Berend Strik, Fransje Killaars, Madeleine Berkhemer and Rosemarie Trockel, were highly successful with needle and thread. They examined the external, tactile and symbolic characteristics and used the whole gamut of textiles as a ‘raw material’ or as ready-mades. Textiles can be selected for their fragility, for the traces of the past they contain, their sensitivity and symbolism and/or for traditional connotations. For a few years now, the growing interest of artists and designers in the significance of textile as a medium for questioning social issues has been reflected in numerous exhibitions. In that context, curator Grant Watson introduced the appropriate term ‘social fabric’ during the exhibition Textiles Art and the Social Fabric (2009, MuHKA, Antwerp). It also featured a section of the archive of the American collector Seth Siegelaub (1941-2013) which not only covers the socio-cultural, but also the economic significance of textiles. Siegelaub worked at his Center for Social Research on Old Textiles (CSROT) from 1986. In 2012 Watson organized the Social Fabric exhibition in Iniva in London, at which he called particular attention to the economic significance of textiles. In the autumn of 2013 the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), in Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500-1800, featured the exchange of fabrics, patterns and motifs between differing continents and cultures. Closer to home, Museum Abteiberg in Mönchengladbach held the exhibition Textiles: Open Letter and Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg organized Kunst & Textil. Stoff als Material und Idee in der Moderne von Klimt bis heute. These are just a few examples. The relation between art, design and society occupies an important place in Museum Arnhem’s exhibition and collection policy. Threads. Textiles in Art & Design is anchored in that history. With that perspective in mind, my colleague Eveline Holsappel, curator of applied art, and I selected designers and artists who, with their work, reflect both historical and contemporary social themes. We chose works in which threads / textiles are elements in reflections on sociopolitical issues. 7

Using threads and textiles, the participating artists and designers form ties between past and present, art and craft, and personal and public themes. The themes range from ecology and sustainability to socio-political and symbolic meanings of certain patterns, to the significance of connecting in social networks. Threads displays work from different generations, by artists and designers with different backgrounds, from different continents. The exhibition is interdisciplinary and contains installations, video works, wall and spatial objects, particularly contemporary works. The denominator [thread] ties together the multitude of objects which have been created with textiles or thread (-connections). The catalogue texts examine the various motives of the artists and designers and the possible meanings of their work. It is to be hoped that the exhibition and publication will encourage the viewer to discover inspiring connections and make fresh links. Mirjam Westen



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Faig Ahmed works in different media, including painting, video and installation. He made a name for himself with his installations inspired by Azerbaijan’s ancient rug-making culture. For instance in his Thread Installation (2012) he literally broke up the woven structure by spanning the threads in the space they occupied. The structure of the carpet unravelling before the viewer’s eyes can be seen as a metaphor for ancient traditions under threat from globalization. Throughout the centuries, carpet-weaving in Asia was regarded as a sophisticated way of writing, rather than a decorative practice, as it is in the West. Ahmed seeks to link the traditional objects incorporated in Azerbaijani culture to the present day by means of slight alterations. Although it is a source of inspiration, Ahmed would seem, indirectly, to be criticizing the self-same carpet culture, which until recently was hardly receptive to modernization. Globalization is often seen as a threat to local traditions, in Ahmed’s opinion. He wants to demonstrate that the two developments are not juxtaposed. He hopes people will be able to look at the embedding of habits and customs less routinely. Not only are past and present interwoven, the element of time also plays a part in a different way. In some works, the artist transforms the two-dimensional carpet into a three-dimensional installation in which the process, the time span is exposed. His work appeals to the public’s set ideas on oriental rugs – for example, the rug as the symbol of a nation and the rug as a coveted souvenir of the touristic Silk Route. In the Flood of Yellow Weigh wall-hanging, the traditional pattern ‘degenerates’ into an almost digital pixellike pattern, dissolving ultimately into a monochrome yellow block of colour. The rug symbolizes the East, while the distorted pattern represents the West. By combining these two meanings in an artwork, Ahmed seeks to transcend the old division between East and West. The wall installation Recycle is based on a carpet made around 1880, with an unusual history. It once belonged to an old woman in south-Azerbaijan. She had misgivings about selling her precious possession, which her grandmother had given her many years before. Her parents refused to give permission for her marriage. All she was allowed to take with her from her childhood home near Armenia as ‘dowry’ was this gift from her grandmother. In the end, she agreed to sell it to a merchant after having heard it would go to an artist. Ahmed noted that there is tension between the part of Azerbaijan where the carpet originated and Armenia, making the story even more poignant: the woman may never be able to return to her native region. The whole history caused Ahmed to have doubts about the concept of his installation, i.e. to cut the historic carpet into pieces and rearrange them in the shape of the recycle symbol. Because of its background he felt responsible for the carpet and so for his own act of ‘vandalism’ if he were to proceed. The carpet was already a work of art thanks to the transformation it had produced in the artist himself. It not only bears the history of its previous owners, but also that of Ahmed. All things considered, he decided to have the carpet cut up to form the recycle symbol. The message he wishes to convey with his ‘deconstructed’ carpet is paramount, despite his discomfort. He wants to make it clear that we are all accountable to some extent, even the museum by displaying the work and the viewers by looking at it. We all participate in ‘recycling’, perpetuation and, in the process, the transformation of traditions.


RECYCLE 2014 wool, wood and steel 170 x 170 cm

FLOOD OF YELLOW WEIGH 2007 wool 150 x 100 cm Courtesy of the artist & Yay Gallery, Baku

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Marie Julia Bollansée’s work addresses themes of life and death and the uncertain area in between. She trained as a sculptor and, since the late 1990s, has particularly distinguished herself as a performance artist. The transition from sculpture to performance started when, alongside her sculpting, she began making casts of body parts – of her own body and those of others. She went on to apply pigments on the skin, direct. For the artist, colour on her body felt like a transparent cloak – one that perhaps exposes more than an unpainted nude body might. In her work, threads, wool and knitted items are constant elements. In 2003 Bollansée made her first video installation concerning the manual processing of threads. Survival Knit is a recording of her performance in the store of the designer Walter van Beirendonck in Antwerp. Bollansée sat for three hours among shoppers who were inspecting and trying on garments. She sat as if meditating, bent over her knitting and without making eye contact with the visitors around her. Bollansée mainly goes about her performances intuitively. Her frame of reference is the location. At that point she also decides on the colour she will use. The artist stresses the spiritual effect of colours: every colour has a soul. Red stands for the start of a new phase, a new step within her oeuvre. White symbolizes death. She associates blue with reflection and the idea that you can survey and look back on everything from an aerial perspective, as it were. Gold and silver in her work represent the earth and the physical body. Bollansée spins and dyes her wool by hand. She uses sheep’s wool, a spinning wheel and natural dyes. “Spinning is therapeutic, it’s movement. And it can provide seclusion, contemplation, as if one were in a convent. It’s medication for melancholy”, as the artist puts it. Her mother usually does the knitting for her. Red String depicts the performance Bollansée gave in 2013 in Théâtre de Verdure at the Citadel of Namur, Belgium. While the public was on the central stage of this open-air theatre, the artist walked across the seating wearing a red knitted dress. The uncovered parts of her body, her face, arms and breasts, were coloured with red pigment. In her hand she carried a ball of red wool. As she walked up and down the theatre steps, she unwound a strand of thread, leaving it as a trail behind her. Bollansée’s intention was to make us aware of the often invisible structures in society. Red String is reminiscent of the classical myth of Ariadne. She is said to have given Theseus a sword and a ball of wool to help him escape from the labyrinth – he would manage to find his way out if he unwound the thread. However, not the myth, but her walks through the Jewish quarter round Rue des Rosiers in Paris inspired her to use the red thread in this performance. She was affected by the displays in shop windows of small boxes with red thread, which plays an important part in Jewish traditions. The thread is worn round the wrist, for luck. Also a red thread is wound round a gravestone as a mark of honour to the matriarch Chana. On Sunday 18 May 2014 Bollansée gave the performance Wind in the museum gardens. There she wore a long, blue skirt knitted by her mother. On the video screen in front of the museum window the spectator saw the mother literally ‘knitting away’ the time. Behind the window we saw how Bollansée made a labyrinth from the blue wool of her clothing. The work presents the theme of the bloodline between mothers, daughters and granddaughters. The thread alludes to the blueish veins in the body. The mother, with her knitting, literally gives concrete form to the bloodline, the daughter ‘makes off’ with the thread.


RED STRING 2013 Video 7.54 mins., wool, body paint. On loan from the artist Knitwork: Mit Hendrickx

WIND 2014 Performance in Museum Arnhem gardens

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Célio Braga examines in his drawings, installations and video works the relation between body, memory, sickness and death. He trained in Brazil as a jewellery designer and continued his studies at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam where he stood out on account of his eye for detail and meticulous treatment of materials. Braga makes works that appear muted and abstract and, only on closer inspection, yield up their essential layeredness. His installations usually comprise a multitude of components. The schematic arrangement creates an atmosphere of calm and balance. Unveil consists of hundreds of rings of folded paper. The rings are strung together to form long paper chains hanging in the space like a transparent veil or curtain. The artist believes the making of the chains, with their repetition and composition, has a meditative quality. The papers he used started off as patient information leaflets for medicines ranging from paracetamol and eye-drops to Aids medication. Braga got the leaflets from friends and acquaintances; something that makes the work a personal expression of solace and support. Braga sees this installation as a tribute, a memento mori, to those who have died or who have lost someone through illness. The title, Unveil, is thought-provoking. The veil reveals or discloses what often remains unseen, unmentioned, like the Aids disease. In that sense, Unveil can be taken as a silent protest that seeks to break that taboo. By the same token, it can be interpreted as a healing monument, a monument to our attempts to heal and protect ourselves from sickness, decline and death. The Litanies wall installation also forms a reference to physical transience, the fear of sickness and death. Litanies (i.e. a series of prayers) was made from worn clothing and the ribbons which are often sold at the entrance of a church. Purchasers tie ‘wish knots’ in the ribbons to wear round their wrists. Wishes are often associated with love, health and money. Braga presents the knotted textile material in ever-changing minimalist arrangements, evoking intimacy, stillness and an atmosphere of consolation. Litanies can be seen as a monument to hope, a wish for every knot.


UNVEIL 2008-2009 paper, adhesive tape c. 350 x 350 cm Courtesy of Galerie Hein Elferink

LITANIES 2013-2014 textile, ribbon variable measurements On loan from the artist

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Tiffany Chung occupies a prominent place in contemporary art in Vietnam. Since 2007 she has been working on map-projects, a series of street plans and maps of countries in which railway lines, roads and other links are depicted in embroidery and stitching. The topographic images refer to traumatic conflicts that occurred in those regions. In this way Chung keeps reminding us of the distressing consequences of the Cold War, the carving up of territories and the loss of loved ones. The artist interweaves other people’s experiences with stories of her own family, which was separated during and after the Vietnam War. In the scratching the walls of memory installation Chung combines the memories of people from various continents and periods who have been affected by war and loss. A school desk is surrounded by writing tablets with chalked-on texts, and army satchels with texts embroidered on them. The texts are fragments of personal messages written by people who experienced devastation, the carving up of regions and war, as in Berlin, Vietnam, Tibet and North Africa. By collecting the texts together, Chung gave those whose story had never been told or heard, a voice. The idea for this installation came about during a visit to a former elementary school in Hiroshima which now houses the Peace Museum. During renovations, workers encountered, beneath many coats of wall paint, a blackened surface on which messages were written, as on a school blackboard: after the devastating atom bomb in 1945 the school housed many victims. Family members had been separated and hoped to find one another with these messages. Or else they described the effect of the bomb: “I couldn’t move. I couldn’t find my shadow. I looked up. I saw the cloud, the mushroom cloud growing in the sky. It was very bright. It had so much heat inside.” With the green satchels Chung recalls the recycling of green uniforms and parachutes. The army cloth has a new purpose and at the same time is a tangible reminder of the absent wearer.


SCRATCHING THE WALLS OF MEMORY 2010 38 handmade writing slates made from recycled wood, 24 hand-sewn cloth satchels made from old army tents, embroidery and chalk c. 275 x 400 cm Courtesy of the artist & Tyler Rollins Fine Art With thanks to M. Hobers, Arnhem

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LONDON, UK (1966)

Julie Cockburn often uses found photographs of portraits and landscapes which she personalizes with embroidery and collage. Her intention is to give the photos a new life and, with her additions, link the anonymous past with the present. Cockburn works with photography, but does not consider herself a photographer. She uses various kinds of pictures, ranging from portraits from old yearbooks to photos of landscapes. The vintage photo is the starting point for the textile addition. She alludes to the feeling of nostalgia evoked by the blackand-white photos. The artist enters into a dialogue with the existing image and, in a process of deconstruction and reconstruction, seeks to give the photos new meaning. She wants to keep the recognizable aspects of the old photos intact and bring out the hidden meanings of her own interventions. Her embroidery often consists of bright colours that contrast with the black-and-white photos. The threads connect up past and present, and also what is impersonal (portrait of a stranger) and personal (the addition of the artist herself). Cockburn not only uses embroidery, but also collage techniques to give the photo a new connotation. She literally deconstructs parts of the image by cutting it up into geometric shapes. She then recomposes the individual pieces in repetitive patterns. In the collages in the Threads exhibition the artist applied embroidery to vintage portraits. In Contemplation the contours of the portrayed woman have been accentuated quirkily in white thread. The work – that is not without humour – is reminiscent of a defaced poster with, for example, one of the teeth blackened. Accordingly, the nostalgic and serious character of the original has been altered at one stroke; the stiff, upright way the woman is presented gives way to a more relaxed presentation. Portraits of women were also used in the other collages. All women are depicted looking ‘impeccable’, with humorous touches added by Cockburn. The smiling lady in the work entitled Looby (2014) looks at the visitor through a hoop-like mask of coloured textile. The textile encircling her suggests the woman’s traditional role of housewife, and her handwork. Cockburn seems to play with the straitjacket that encloses the woman in the portrait as well as disclosing new representations. However, in the work Plead the woman’s individuality is compromised. The embroidery hides the woman’s face and causes her to fade into anonymity.


LOOBY PLEAD CONTEMPLATION WOE 2014 vintage photos, embroidery measurements 27.7 x 20.3 cm On loan from the artist

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In her textile collages, video works and installations, Kyriaki Costa fuses together fragments of iconic symbols from the past and culture of Cyprus to form new images. She rearranges them and adds politically charged texts. Textile, weaving and embroidery techniques play an important part in her work. Inspired by the handwork traditions in her family, Costa developed at an early age a fascination for working with textile. This tradition also has a symbolic value for her from which she creates new stories. Her Emotions in motion video portrays the choreography of movements, between hand and material, between thought and action, between object and memory. The crocheted figures in this animation refer to life, nature and traditions. The handwork technique is, in Costa’s view, part and parcel of the evolution of culture. For weaving, crochet and knitting you need advanced hand coordination; these techniques can only be performed by people. Handwork is not only about technique – for Costa it is a way of telling stories. In the 21st century iconoclasm video, Costa challenges cultural identity and mobility. She moves iconic monuments, like the American Statue of Liberty, to other locations, including Greece. Costa examines how a collective identity and individual identities interrelate. To what extent do national monuments reflect individual identity? How does the glamorization and promotion of local traditions geared to tourism interface with the desired unity within Europe? She contests a collective European identity, in which local cultures and traditions are guaranteed. Costa draws attention to the fact that economic interests are the main reason for protecting local cultures. The question remains whether the representation of local cultures is still consistent with the actual experience of these cultures.

THE TROUBLE WITH HOUSE ARREST 2009 textile 35 x 25 cm

COMMON FUTURES 2009-2010 textile 30 x 25 cm

PROTEST IS BEAUTIFUL 2009-2010 textile 56 x 57 cm

EUROPE 2012 embroidery pattern, textile 180 x 130 cm

21ST CENTURY ICONOCLASM 2011-2013 video 5 min On loan from the artist

EMOTIONS IN MOTION Another important element in Costa’s work is the exploration of boundaries. The boundary between past and present, between collective and individual, between Cyprus and Europe, but the boundary dividing Cyprus into a Greek and a Turkish part is also questioned, for instance in the work of embroidery entitled Europe. The patron saint of this continent proves to have two heads.

2006-2009 video 2.23 mins. Collection Cyprus Contemporary Art Museum (CYCO)


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Ana de la Cueva uses a whole range of techniques in her work, in which the autobiographical aspect combines with her views on developments in society. She addresses differing themes such as male and female sexuality, consumer society and politically emotive issues like migration. De la Cueva uses embroidery, a technique that is generally associated with domesticity.


Themes including territories and border-crossings are key elements in her oeuvre. She often uses maps of geographical regions which also allude to political, economic and social relationships between countries. She is particularly interested in the border between the United States and Mexico. Every day thousands of migrants from the south undertake the journey to a better life in the north. Drugs smugglers also pursue a similar search for border-crossings from Mexico, though with different objectives. That human traffic has a complex social structure, which De la Cueva translates into embroidered works. The depiction of footprints in her early work is also related to those considerations. She sees the footprints as symbols of people’s individuality and their imprint in locale and life. For instance, the triptych Mending Traces (2007) portrays the American continent in different shades of glossy red. Footprints are shown running from bottom to top in paint and embroidery stitches, thus suggesting the migration of individuals and cultures from south to north.


The Maquila installation comprises an embroidery frame and a video of a digitally-operated machine stitching the outlines of America, with popular Mexican and American tunes playing in the background. As soon as the machine starts stitching the border between Mexico and the United States the music ceases and a line of scarlet embroidery emerges. With this, De la Cueva is referring to the notorious wall that is currently under construction to prevent migrants entering the United States illegally. In Mexico it is known as ‘The Wall of Shame’. While many Mexican migrants are refused entry, American companies make abundant use of cheap labour in countless embroidery sweatshops near the Mexican border, according to De la Cueva. The use of embroidery in Maquila can be seen as an ironic comment on that practice. In Fronteras the artist has embroidered all the national boundaries of the Latin American continent in white thread on textile in round embroidery frames. In a rectangular frame she embroidered the border between Mexico and America in gold thread. What matters to her is the politico-economic significance of that border, forming the décor of illegal labour migration and violent drugs smuggling. She describes the work as ‘all the borders in the country, from Patagonia to the American dream’. With which she refers to the dream cherished by ‘down and outs’. Many Mexican migrants have the same ideal. De la Cueva shows the borders of The American Dream: it is not for everyone.


2007 video 3.17 mins. and embroidery frame textile Ø 30 cm

2013 embroidery on textile, 9 parts On loan from the artist (Fronteras) photo: Pablo Corradi

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Yael Davids explores the human body by staging performative acts. Her installations are sometimes slightly destabilizing on account of the discrepancy between the first impression and the impression after further examination of the work. What seems motionless and dead, proves on closer observation to be alive. Texts seemingly written with a pen in fact contain human hair. Such paradoxical perceptions result to combine the expected with the unexpected. Similarly, they are related to the everyday objects like tables, cupboards, mattresses and mirrors the artist uses, and with which she wants to define our fleeting presence in the space. The utilitarian objects change into living objects because of the presence of people in the artwork.


With the performative element Davids seeks to express the passage of time in concrete terms. In her interpretation, time is not measured traditionally. Her performances seem static on the face of it, yet minimal, slow movements occur. Davids’ performances deliberately have neither a beginning or an end. The deployment of the body forms the framework of the work. Moreover, she seeks to suggest time by means of repetition. In other works, too, Davids expresses her own viewpoint on time, as in Timetable, in which she embroidered her own schedule from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. The Buttonholes diptych consists of scraps of unbleached cotton in which buttonholes have been sewn with human hair and are placed next to two bone buttons. The use of her own hair as a material represents human presence that defines time.


Davids uses the human body as a sculptural element, as material, as in the Thread photograph, which shows two hands that have been sewn together with needles and thread. She is constantly testing the body by forcing it into uncomfortable positions. Davids eliminates all personality from the body by relinquishing only parts at a time, thus enabling it to become one with the object. In The Table all these different aspects coincide. Only on closer inspection do viewers discover that what they see contrasting with the white tablecloth are the backs of real heads. What initially looked like inanimate objects prove to be breathing. Davids uses the heads, partially sunk into the table, to thematize the incongruence between keeping the body hidden and exposing it. Davids’ more recent work refers implicitly to socio-political issues. For instance, in her exhibition ‘Ending with Glass’ at the Basel Kunsthalle (2011), she looked at the new activities of a kibbutz; though the inhabitants had previously worked as farmers, most of the working population was now employed in the glass industry. Davids shows how the thickness and quality of the glass have changed over time due to ever more stringent requirements (from bullet-proof to grenadeproof to Kalaschnikov-proof). The installation Learning to Imitate (2011), developed during her stay at Casa Vecina in Mexico, consists of very large pieces of dark textile incorporating the themes of mourning, loss, memory, distance and proximity. In Mexico Davids was part of a group of seamstresses who worked together every day. Although she did not speak the women’s language, the artist established a relationship with them through her sewing; a kind of proximity came about that transcended the narrative.


1997 installation, table, chairs, textile, wood 200 x 140 x 82 cm

THREAD 1995 photo 68.5 x 101 cm

1997 photo on aluminium 50.4 x 36.5 cm

TIMETABLE 1995 paper, hair 21 x 29.5 cm

BUTTONHOLE I & II 2007 Cotton, hair, button 59 x 36 cm each Collection Museum Arnhem, gift from De Paviljoens, Almere

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LONDON, UK (1974)

Shezad Dawood’s oeuvre comprises paintings, textile works, light sculptures, film and video. He draws inspiration from Sufism, in search of a mystical and hidden world, for correspondences between symbols from different cultures and traditions. By bringing images together, Dawood creates parallel and complex stories which disclose real or imaginary worlds existing in/behind/alongside our everyday reality. He examines intuitively similarities in varying cultures, sometimes discovering unexpected patterns. In the works entitled Infinites and Scooby Doo Yantra Dawood brings together different traditions and cultures. He uses vintage quilts as a background, made in the seventies in Pakistan by women in nomadic communities. The quilts are made from remnants of material joined together with obvious stitches. For Dawood the cloths symbolize a tradition of ‘being on the way’ and returning. That symbolism is consistent with his views on the underlying mystical world, which, time and again, disappears and reappears in various cultures and religions. After Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan, the export of such quilts to that country – Pakistan’s neighbour – ceased. They were then exported to America, a market with entirely different requirements. For instance, the Scooby Doo dog (from the American cartoon series at that time, featuring a talking dog and a team of detectives) suddenly appeared on the textiles. In Scooby Doo Yantra Dawood painted a similar quilt with a layer of pink paint featuring on it a black, esoteric egg and a pink triangle – a symbolic representation of Yantra. The egg stands for fertility, for carrying new life and for the womb. In Hindu culture the egg also symbolizes the birth of the cosmos and the lingam, a phallic form denoting male and female fertility. Dawood deliberately chooses signs of that type in order to slow down the reception of the viewer. The idea is that the viewer will not immediately recognize the symbols, but will first take time and reflect on what he or she sees. The Infinites also entails painting on a quilt from the seventies. Dawood added a drawing to it, of someone who believed he had seen the undercarriage of an extraterrestrial vehicle, a UFO: five interconnected discs with a pulsating centre in burning orange, all of which orbit round two smaller circles. The drawing corresponds to a very old Chinese drawing of the cosmos. The work demonstrates that, in his quest, Dawood does not differentiate between profane and religious symbols. Symbols from various religions and cultures are combined with science fiction images and other depictions from old and modern visual culture.


SCOOBY DOO YANTRA 2011 acrylic paint, textile

THE INFINITES 2011 acrylic paint, textile Courtesy of Shezad Dawood & Gallery Paradise Row

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Gluklya (Natalia Persina-Yakimanskaya) works, both individually and collectively, on projects that are a cross between installations, performances and activist interventions. She establishes connections between artist and public, and between art and society. Her aim is to create a new idiom that can transcend cynicism, apathy and loneliness in human life. In 1995 she founded the Factory of Found Clothes (FFC) together with Tsaplya (Olga Egorova). In their performances they challenged the heterosexual norm and sexism in Russian society. She also belongs to ‘Chto Delat?’ [What is to be done?], a collective of artists, critics, philosophers and writers from St. Petersburg and Moscow. The themes Gluklya addresses relate to changes in Russian society, disappointment over perestroika and the problems in present-day politics. In 2002 FFC published the manifesto ‘The place of the artist is on the side of the weak’ in which they negated the idea that weakness or poverty is a curse; it is a human reality that is sustained by existing power structures. The manifesto argues in favour of the social role that art can play: if artists band together with others they can counteract the neo-liberalism that has put stamped out solidarity. Clothing plays a central role in FFC’s projects. According to Tsaplya and Gluklya, clothing is an ideal trigger for discussions on identity. In their Utopian Clothing Shop project they stressed that clothing could reveal rather than conceal the wearer’s vulnerability. In several recent works Gluklya addresses the vulnerable position of migrants. Inhabitants of the states of the former Soviet Union move to the big cities in Russia, often work there for a pittance and live in wretched conditions. The project Utopian Union of the Unemployed (2009) centers on the encounter between successful ballerinas and unemployed men. The contrast between the two, with men who have lost their role as breadwinners, illustrates the transformation of Russian socialism into a hyper-capitalist society. Again, in Wings of Migrants (2012), Gluklya linked up migrants with dancers in a joint performance. Dance serves to bring together various groups in society. In the spring of 2014 Gluklya embarked on the project The Moving Museum of Clothes in the Bijlmer housing estate in Southeast Amsterdam. Residents were asked to provide a garment to which the owner in question was very attached. Gluklya went on to make new clothes with the local people. Her aim is to create a platform in which there is room for personal stories and identity. With the Threads theme as inspiration, Gluklya created the Sweet kartoga installation, presenting her mother as her muse and thus considering the differences between generations and raising the issue of mutual respect. She examines the relationship with her mother, who worked for years in the textile industry and is a weaver. The installation consists of video work and a number of garments belonging to the two of them, including a dress made of ikat fabric. The pattern of the weave and colour which originated in Uzbekistan, alludes to her mother’s evacuation to Tashkent in 1941-1944. Conversations between Gluklya and her mother alternate with performances enacted by Gluklya portraying her mother’s dreams and desires that were rarely voiced. Gluklya explains the repressed desires as resulting from the influence of the totalitarian regime on a person’s mind and ideas. The recurring red thread in the video pictures is a reference to the importance of connecting different generations. The words ‘sweet katorga’ [sweet hard labour] were her mother’s; they were her way to describe her love of rug-weaving.


SWEET KARTORGA 2014 Multimedia installation, video, clothing On loan from the artist

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In Nicholas Hlobo’s oeuvre the central themes are masculinity, ethnicity and (homo) sexuality. Hlobo explores the ‘boundaries of nascent sexual identities’ in order to undermine the idea of a so-called fixed identity. He made a name for himself with phallic sculptures in leather, rubber and textile with which he challenges prejudices and sexual taboos in South Africa. The artist plays with his cultural roots by giving his works and shows titles in the Xhosa language. He uses his mother tongue as a critical statement vis-à-vis the predominantly white and ‘anglicized’ art world in South Africa. In reviews, his use of rubber is often linked with sexuality on account of the connotations with condoms, fetishism and sadomasochism. In addition, rubber also symbolizes masculinity, because of its association with car tyres and the concomitant, mainly male industry. In his work Ungubo Yesizwe [Blanket of the nation] (2008) he enters into a dialogue with traditional African culture – by means of the traditional material leather, representing the importance of cattle – and present-day urbanization, expressed in rubber as a reference to the growing car industry. The work also has a distinct sexual connotation with its phallic form. The seams are stitched together with colourful ribbons. The installation Unongayindada [One who almost looks like a woman] (2005-2006) homes in on gender stereotypes using, on the one hand, ‘masculine’ leather and rubber, and, on the other, a ‘feminine’ dress with tulle and ribbons. The combination of these materials underlines gender ambiguity. In Balindile V [Those in waiting] black rubber, colourful ribbons, textile and steel have been used to achieve a contrast between the industrial materials and the more delicate constituents. It can be interpreted as a metaphor for the increasing visibility of homosexuality in South Africa and the strained relations with the traditions and prevailing conventions in the country, and especially the Xhosa culture. The anthropomorphic forms of Balindile V are reminiscent of the womb or of testicles, and consequently fertility. The reel at one end is linked via a hose resembling an umbilical cord to a rubber structure at the other end. The work can be seen as a portrayal of Hlobo’s own experience as a black homosexual in South Africa and the aggression he encounters. Yet the colourful ribbons in the work convey a festive atmosphere, with which the artist wishes to show that, despite aggression or repression, homosexuals find scope to celebrate their ‘otherness’.


BALINDILE V 2012 rubber, ribbons, fire-hose and steel On loan from the Ekard Collection

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In 2010 Merel Karhof developed Wind Knitting Factory, a knitting machine powered by wind energy. The knitted product is made into scarves and each scarf has a label stating the time and day on which the wind produced the knitting. When it is very windy, the machine knits faster and, with less wind, slower. Karhof’s design approach is consistent with the development in product design that unites sustainability with innovative design. “Everyone’s talking about green energy, but no-one knows what it means; how much energy do you need to make a scarf? In this project I’ve visualized the wind and what it can produce”, according to Karhof. In one of her recent projects, Windworks (2013), Karhof goes a step further in her aspiration to use wind as a sustainable energy source. In an old mill at Zaanse Schans wooden planks are sawn to make chairs. In another mill, pigments are ground from seed oil. The pigments are used for colouring the wool which, in turn, is made into knitted items in the wind-powered knitting machine. The fabric is then used to upholster the furniture made from the sawn planks. The result is a collection of upholstered furniture produced by means of the inexhaustible, free source of energy: wind. This clarification of the effect of natural phenomena, which are not immediately visible or observable, occurs in other works of Karhof’s, including Thirty days Acquamarine (2010). Every day, she took a photo of the water of the Italian city of Venice, translating the shades of colour into a colour scheme for a silk scarf. Her desire to capture and record phenomena stems from a fascination with classifying and cataloguing. She describes her work as an archive of seemingly unnecessary recordings. In the course of 2014 Karhof travelled to China with several other Dutch designers, as part of the Dutchinese project. She worked there with the traditional weaving mill, Yun Brocade. There, they still use a traditional, highly labour-intensive method. The project is an initiative by three women who wanted to bridge the two cultures.


WIND KNITTING FACTORY 2010 Installation, metal, wool On loan from the artist

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Aisha Khalid often draws on Pakistan’s traditional medium of miniature painting in her work. She mixes classic Islamic motifs with socio-political topics relating to culture, identity and gender. Her art is both personal and political and is characterized by a powerful spiritual presence. Inspired by Islamic decorative art, textile art and modernistic abstract painting, she challenges the ‘fixed conventions’ of traditional miniature painting. The labour-intensive aspect of miniature art has greatly influenced her approach. Her fascination with patterns and her experiments with form are bound up with that. Repetition is the basis of the patterns in her work. She experiences the process of repetition as a kind of meditation. The spiritual aspect of her art is, in Khalid’s view, the only way to achieve true, divine beauty. That spirituality can be traced back to Islamic artistic practice, from which the geometrical and mathematical dimensions of her work are derived. Without the meditative state to which the artist withdraws when creating art, it might well have been impossible to complete the timeconsuming process that precedes a work like Kashmiri Shawl (2011). This work, made for the Sharjah Biennial, is not only the result of the quest for beauty and spirituality. We can see an abstract, symmetrical, dazzling black pattern on the front of this spatial installation, but the red back shows how the pattern came about: over 300,000 furniture pins pierce the shawls. Khalid is referring to the discrepancy between the world-wide popularity of the shawls and the lack of interest in the protracted conflict regarding the Asian region of Jammu and Kashmir, between India and Pakistan. So the quest for beauty also serves as a means for the artist to raise political issues. In her other work she also combines different motifs, such as rose-patterned textile pieces alongside characteristic green military material – they signify a commentary on social dichotomies. The artist explores the confrontation between west and east, and cultural differences in the installation West looks East (2013) which consists of two richly ornamented silk jackets, one red and one black, pierced with thousands of pins. The veil is a recurring theme in Khalid’s work. Initially she depicted it as a positive symbol; for the artist the wearing of a veil from childhood meant a kind of protection. In her later work she responded more to the connotation of repression which is often associated with it. That is evident , for instance, in the painting of a blue veil in which the eye design symbolizes the male gaze. Khalid stresses that the veil can have different, sometimes conflicting meanings. Her focus on the veil is one reason why textiles, and the wealth of textile patterns, have been a source of inspiration from the beginning. Apart from paintings and installations, Khalid also works with video, as in the diptych Conversation (2002). In this video installation the artist combines techniques that include sewing and embroidery with concomitant repeated performative actions. Conversation can be seen as a metaphor for inequality in power between the post-colonial Far East and the West. In one video image, a pair of hands can be seen embroidering a rose, while on the other screen another pair of hands is unpicking the very same embroidery.


CONVERSATION 2012 Video 120 mins. Courtesy of Gallery Corvi-Mora

KASHMIRI SHAWL 2011 wool, pins Courtesy of the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection

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Fransje Killaars is known primarily for her installations of brightly coloured textiles. She is fascinated by the power of colour, the relation between people and textiles and the association of textiles with everyday life. Her hand-woven carpets, blankets, cushions and coloured fabrics form the ‘alphabet’ with which she composes her installations. Colour and material coincide in her work. All the shades of the spectrum are present; fluorescent colours and patterns make for a dizzying visual effect, but muted colours also create balance and equilibrium. Killaars likes to play with contrasting colours, striving to combine them to produce optical effects. Her palette varies from pink, orange, apple green, cobalt blue to lemon. Her choice of textiles ranges from cotton, wool, net, polyesters, plastic and faux fur.


Apart from her autonomous installations Killaars has achieved renown with various commissions for public space. They consist of room-filling installations and wall hangings, with colour forming a pivotal element for the architectural setting. With the vivid colours, materials and surroundings, the installations induce disconcerting tactile experiences. Time and again her work is about colour and space, texture and symbolism. She draws particular inspiration from textile products of other cultures, especially India. In several series she links clothing originating from different cultures. For instance, she integrated Buddhist clothing, worn by monks, and Sri Lankan batik garments in Shri Lankees Kledingstukken [Sri Lankan clothing] (1993).

The two works on display in the Threads exhibition are part of a series in which garments were again Killaars’ frame of reference. With her work Bindi Killaars demonstrates that colours also play a part in social coding. In the everyday streetscape of India, the social distinction between Hindus and Muslims is evident in the differing hues and styles of their dress. The artist attached a great many bindis to a white garment as generally worn by Muslims. A bindi – literally a droplet – is a dot of pigment worn on the forehead between the eyebrows by Hindu women. Originally it would be vermilion, a bright reddish orange colour. In Hindu tradition, the colour red symbolizes honour, love and prosperity. In addition, spiritual significance is attributed to the bindi. It is considered to be the spiritual third eye and the sixth chakra - the seat of ‘concealed wisdom’. Nowadays there are various types and colours of bindi. They are sometimes worn as a cosmetic mark, having no connection with their original religious significance. The wall installation Zonder titel (Moslim kledingstukken, India) [Untitled - Muslim clothing, India] comprises textiles and paintings. Killaars based this installation on Islamic garments from India, rearranged them in almost formal fashion into colour blocks and went on to translate the brilliant textile colours into four small paintings. In both works the artist draws our attention to the cultural and social meanings of colour and clothing, while seeming, symbolically, to eliminate the social and cultural differences expressed in the clothing.


(Muslim garments, India) 1993 silk, cotton, canvas, acrylic paint 250 x 160 cm

BINDI 1993 muslim dhoti with bindis 168 x 116 cm On loan from the artist

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The important themes in Kimsooja’s video performances and installations are migration, war, cultural conflicts and the growing differences in affluence between people and continents. Since the 1980s she has been working with textiles, especially ‘ybulbo’, the traditional colourful cotton or silk cloths that are in everyday use in Korea, indoors and out. She stitches several pieces of cloth together and makes them into bundles, which are formed into numerous installations. She gained international renown with the video Cities on the Move: 2727 kilometres Bottari Truck (1997) in which the viewer watches a blue truck travel the long distance through Korea. The truck is loaded with colourful textile bundles, ‘bottari’. The artist sits on top, in the lotus position, travelling thousands of kilometres past all the places where she once lived. In the A Needle Woman video installation (1999-2001) we see the artist, standing motionless among crowds of people who pass her by without noticing her, in such cities as Tokyo, Shanghai, Mexico City, New York and Lagos. With the title she describes her position as an artist: she compares herself with the needle that is ‘sewn up’ in the complex interweaving of differing local social contexts with various continents. In the video works A Homeless Woman – Delhi (2000) and A Homeless Woman – Cairo (2001), Kimsooja sits for hours in the street close to busy intersections in the metropolises of Delhi and Cairo. Thread Routes is the first chapter of Kimsooja’s corresponding six-part film project. She uses images shot in super 16mm film to capture traditional processes and techniques used in textile production and treatment. Each chapter examines textile production on a specific continent, the outcome of which a series giving a picture of the specific local use of textiles and the differences and similarities with textile treatment on other continents. The idea for this extensive project came about when she was visiting Bruges in Belgium and encountered traditional crafts, including weaving, embroidery, knitting and lace-making. In the first part of Thread Routes, Kimsooja takes the spectator on a journey through Peru and South America. ‘Stills’ of cotton production, harvesting, spinning, dyeing and knitting alternate with pictures of the local population, their cultural traditions, architecture and landscape. Her project can be seen as a homage to the wealth of local traditions in which textiles have a central cultural place. When you see the still images, they seem far removed from the strains and stresses experienced by local traditions. As a result of globalization and industrialization of textile production, the transfer of the valuable/splendid/ fine craft to younger generations is being compromised.


THREAD ROUTES, CHAPTER 1 2010 Video 29.31 mins. Courtesy of Kimsooja Studio

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MUMBAI, INDIA (1969) Monali Meher is primarily famous for her installations, performances, photo collages and drawings focusing on the relationship with the surroundings. In her performances she sets in motion a dialogue between memory, past and the material or surroundings in which she works. The essence for Meher is to transfigure identity: her own, but also that of the space which is transformed by her action. Skin, the exterior, as a vehicle for cultural connotations, is also an important theme in her work. Meher seeks to express the cultural, social components of material and space. Since 2006 she has been involved at various locations in projects in which textiles play a central role. In the projects Quilt (2006-2007) and SaReeMe (2012) Meher worked with women living in urban districts to swap different handwork techniques. Similarly, joining people together, collaboration and empowerment were an important impetus in Marcham el Matroz [stamping and embroidery]. In that project she worked in 2013-2014 with women from different cultural backgrounds in the Amsterdam neighbourhood of Bos en Lommer on new techniques with fabric, creating new colours and new designs. They drew inspiration from the letters of various languages to develop new motifs and designs. A recurring theme in Meher’s work since 2004 has been the winding of objects for everyday use in a red woollen thread, giving them a new meaning. Red is the colour symbolizing both life and death, love and violence and danger. The creation of an object with a textile structure is reminiscent of the Indian tradition of attaching to temples pieces of red or yellow cloth or ribbons in which templegoers have ‘knotted’ their desires. With the woollen thread Meher provides countless objects with an ‘emotional’ skin. The wrapping process evokes associations with a ritual action. The new skin is straightforward in structure, though the actual object is invisible and is disconnected from its functionality. The Dressing Room wall installation is made up of a collection of items all of which have been wrapped in red woollen thread; they have been removed from daily use and transformed into new objects. In the video Breathing Meher blunts the sharpness of a knife by winding it in soft, red woollen thread, in an almost ritualistic way.


BREATHING 2005 Video 15.50 mins. Courtesy of the artist & Lumen Travo Gallery

DRESSING ROOM 2008 textile, objects On loan from the KRC Collection, the Netherlands

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Christien Meindertsma’s aim is to find the authentic, almost pre-industrial relation between product and consumer. In her work, she seeks to clarify the production process. In The Flax Project she shows how flax seed is sown in a Flevoland polder in the Netherlands, how the flax fibre is spun into yarn, and the yarn woven, braided and twined to make rope.


Industrial production processes and globalization mean that people are often no longer aware of the provenance of everyday products. Meindertsma wants to make the origins and the production process transparent. This is well illustrated in One Sheep Sweater, her graduation project at Eindhoven Design Academy in 2003. The wool used for each sweater came from just one merino sheep. Depending on the size of the sheep and the amount of wool, a sweater will be either large or very small. All have subtle differences in colour. Meindertsma makes the most of these irregularities and specific characteristics in her designs and deliberately avoids rectifying them. This work questions present-day society, which would seem to produce identical products with no individual character or features.

The contemporary processing of raw materials is once more uncovered in Meindertsma’s work Pig 05049 (2007). She spent three years researching the processing of pig 05049 and took photos of the astonishing products made from its parts. Again, clarity and transparency are prominent factors in the work, aided by the 1:1 rendering of the finished products in the resulting book of photographs. The project won the prestigious Index Award in 2009. Meindertsma’s approach is based primarily on raw pure materials. For the Flax Project she examined the specific qualities of flax. It was once one of the most important fibres for textile production in the Netherlands. Today it is still grown in small quantities and exported mainly to China. Meindertsma used Dutch flax, spun into yarn, and then woven, braided, twined and knotted at Steenbergen rope-makers in Gorssel. The rope-making craft has a long tradition in the Netherlands. Meindertsma made fourteen products from the rope, including a hassock and a lamp.


2009-2013 Installation with video / film: Roel van Toer On loan from the artist

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Since 2001 Almagul Menlibayeva has been making a name for herself depicting what might be termed a ‘nomadic aesthetic’. Sustained by legends and rituals, she stages her own mythological stories, with neither beginning nor end, in which tradition and modernity flow together effortlessly. The video and photo works contain seductive, melancholy images of women swathed in colourful silk scarves. The scarves can be interpreted as the link between past and present, between visible and invisible forces. Menlibayeva wants to unravel the identity of her native region, which was subjugated during the Soviet rule. She is constantly searching for the specific aspect of the collective mental experiences of the (nomadic) inhabitants of the vast steppes in Kazakhstan. Her video and photo series Butterflies of Aisha-Bibi and My Silk Road To You were shot in rural areas. The silk scarves and fabrics in which the women wrap themselves recall the times when this desolate, partially barren countryside was part of a flourishing trading region – the silk route. The artist delved into the history and the myths, for example relating to the earth goddess Umai. In harking back to that theme, she is apparently reviving the current debate on inequality between the sexes in Kazakhstan. In the video Butterflies of Aisha-Bibi, Menlibayeva recounts the legend of Aisha-Bibi, the daughter of a well-known Sufi poet who died when making her way to her beloved, Karakhan. He had a mausoleum built on the spot where she died. In this tragedy, love is portrayed as something unattainable, as an eternal longing that cannot be quenched. In Menlibayeva’s video and photo works women stride about near the mausoleum of Akhmed Yassavi in Turkistan (One figure) and in front of the mausoleum of Aisha-Bibi in Taraz (Red Butterfly and My Silk Road To You 4). They play with their silk scarves as if in a trance. In some of the photographic works they become one with the richly decorated facades, brought about by similarities in the variegated patterns. Taraz used to be on the silk route and an important trading hub where Flemish laces, Indian cashmere and Chinese silk were sold. Menlibayeva used characteristic ‘khan-atlas’ or ikat textile for the scarves. Ikat is a special technique in which the pattern is applied to the textile by binding and covering some of the threads prior to dyeing, thus ensuring the dye cannot adhere to those areas.


MY SILKROAD TO YOU 4 2011 duratrans in light box 91 x 122 cm

ONE FIGURE 2012 duratrans in light box 91 x 122 cm

RED BUTTERFLY 2012 duratrans in light box 91 x 122 cm

BUTTERFLIES OF AISHA BIBI 2010 high definition video, sound OMFO single channel, 10 mins. Courtesy of American-Eurasian Art Advisors LLC

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After obtaining his Bachelor of Built Environment in 2005, Floor Nijdeken started working as a spatial planner. Then in 2009 he embarked on a second bachelor degree in Product Design at the ArtEZ Institute for the Arts in Arnhem where he attracted attention with his graduation project Crossover Collective. His aim as designer is to develop a platform for encounters and social interaction with his projects and in so doing create opportunities for the emergence of social structures and networks. He believes that living and working together, people tend to develop undesirable habits and routines that can result in indifference and aversion. Nijdeken sees himself as an intermediary and his projects as the medium by which he facilitates communication and teamwork. Collaboration on a project, such as collectively embroidering a large carpet in the Crossover Collective installation, can lead to mutual trust, community spirit and positive energy. The result, a colourful carpet, is the silent witness to the brief or otherwise discussions and encounters of the participants. Nijdeken regards the collective embroidery work as ‘heritage’, encompassing knowledge, behaviour, skills and memories. Nowadays, according to the designer, knowledge transfer occurs chiefly via books and the Internet. Face-toface transfer of knowledge from the older generation to younger generations seems to be dying out, something the designer wants to draw attention to with his project. The fear of spontaneity and contact that seems to dominate society today is an important motivating factor in his work. People withdraw into their own familiar surroundings, whereas according to Nijdeken, what society needs now more than ever is social exchange through personal contact. In the Threads exhibition, Crossover Collective acts as a social machine in which visitors spontaneously participate, exchanging experiences while they add their stitches to the embroidery grid. That social element is an aspect that Nijdeken wants to develop further in the future. He is convinced that his work has something to offer the health care sector and wants to investigate whether the collective activity of traditional handicrafts might succeed in the treatment of elderly people with dementia. Working with needle and thread may also have a positive effect on the development of fine motor coordination in young children. At the same time, Nijdeken wants to explore collaboration with the fashion world. Thus, for the time being textile continues to be an important material, whose possibilities he is keen to explore further.


CROSSOVER COLLECTIVE 2013 Installation, wood, textile On loan from the artist With thanks to Scheepjeswol

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Since 2002 Barbara Polderman has created a body of work that revolves around human and animal figures made of fabric. Her work is an amalgam of patterns, very skilfully executed in collage technique, for which she uses fabrics, tablecloths, pieces of carpet, curtain materials and upholstery. She strives to invest her human and animal effigies with great expressiveness in order to ‘bring them to life’. Their expressive force contains a masterly evocation of the oddities of nature and the driving forces of life. The skin of the figures is often composed of a rich mix of carpets, fabrics, neckties and ravellings that are immediately recognizable as such. The combination of different textures conjures an almost fabulous transformation of material that does not shy away from the grotesque. For the artist, the figures are a way of giving form to a feeling. The feeling may be highly individual and at the same time familiar to many. By using old, sometimes second-hand textiles she also takes on the material’s past as it were. Her concern is not so much with the actual history embedded in the fibres as with the qualities she attributes to it. The external characteristics of the material inspire her just as much as its ‘animated quality’. The collection of fabrics and other textiles that Polderman uses for her sculptures come mainly from her mother and grandfather, who had his own antique shop. Unfortunately this source is gradually drying up. Perhaps when it is finally exhausted there will be a shift in her work. But Polderman is certainly not finished with textile just yet. The Judge is wolf-like quadruped balancing on bits of furniture. The inspiration for this work came during her reading of Grey Souls by the French writer Philippe Claudel. He writes that there are words, such as ‘judge’, that immediately evoke fear or awe. ‘The key is the intransigence represented by the judiciary, something you are at the mercy of, just as you can be at the mercy of an emotion,’ the artist explains. Polderman depicted a creature that embodies both aggression and fear. Its contours and posture are reminiscent of a hyena on the point of striking. Yet the animal has its tail between its legs, as if it wants to retreat after having lost a fight. It appears to make a final attempt to stand erect in order to raise itself above the viewer, but its legs hold it fast in a precarious, unstable equilibrium.


DE RECHTER 2013 textile, wood Courtesy of R & R Reuten Galerie

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LONDON, UK (1986)

Cultural identity and the way it can be expressed using colour and materials play an important role in the sculptures, paintings and installations of Saad Qureshi. From the vantage point of his mixed English and Pakistan heritage, he endeavours to connect heterogeneous worlds and backgrounds in an effort to bridge differences. ‘Belonging’ and memories are key themes. He uses his work to undermine the idea that our identity is determined solely by our origins or can be traced to just one culture. Among other things, he is interested in the role of religion in our society. Drawing on his knowledge of both the Bible and the Koran he broaches the failure of present-day belief systems. All Qureshi’s work evinces a deep fascination with craft techniques and with the use of natural materials. He regards textile as the material that is closest to human beings; as the artist points out, it is the first material we are wrapped in after birth. His monumental wooden installation Quicken (2011) evokes the image of a toppled minaret, which lies in pieces across the floor. The minaret, which in Islam symbolizes the link between heaven and earth, features repeatedly in his work. In the midst of the dramatic tableau, the eye falls on the meticulous, decorative edges of the fragments, which appear to have survived the fall intact. In another installation, In the Remains (2013), dozens of fabric-enveloped objects ‘lean’ against the wall. Their silhouettes are suggestive of weaponry but their charred black skin serves to relativize the effect of the presence of armaments, which might in the first instance arouse alarm. His Borrowed from the Shadows installation consists of knotted Palestinian headscarves laid out on the floor like a nest of vipers. This simple scarf became a symbol of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for their own state, with the result that the traditional textile has ever since been associated with terrorism. The many knots in Qureshi’s mammoth scarf symbolize the conflict between ideals and reality. At the same time, Qureshi challenges the viewer to interrogate the cliché quality of this garment with stereotypical Keffiyeh pattern.


BORROWED FROM THE SHADOWS 2010 installation, cotton, wool and steel On loan from the Farjam Collection

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OSAKA, JAPAN (1972) In all her installations Chiharu Shiota seems to colonize the space in an almost obsessive way. Her works revolve around themes like memory, dreams and fears, expressed by stacking large quantities of everyday objects or by webs of yarn that are stretched across the space. The objects act as vehicles for memories, items of clothing are conceived as a second skin in which experiences are stored. Despite or because of their monumentality, Shiota’s installations evoke a tranquil, almost poetic atmosphere. Several installations feature gigantic white dresses smeared with earth (Memory of Skin, 2000) or attached to the space via blood-red plastic tubes (Dialogue with Absence, 2010).

LIFE OF THREAD 2014 Installation, antique sewing machine, chair, acrylic threads Courtesy of Chiharu Shiota Studio Š Chiharu Shiota, Pictoright Amsterdam 2014 With thanks to Nelly Rijkaart

Using hundreds of window frames that had once looked out over West Berlin from the former East Berlin, Shiota created the monumental installation His Chair (2005). Dialogue from DNA (2004) incorporated thousands of shoes sent to her by people in Japan. Shioto had asked the senders to include a letter about their memory of the shoe. Each shoe and letter was connected by red thread to a single point in the space. Since 2000, Shiota has garnered fame with installations in which she uses black threads to transform the space into a place that appears to be frozen in time. Shiota spins her impenetrable net around simple objects like a bed, a chair, a table or a piano. Through the tangle of threads, each object looks to be enmeshed and fused with its surroundings, as if Shiota hopes in this way to prevent it from vanishing from memory. The threads connect and convey information, Shiota explains. Threads are like a web of fantasies, like tissues that symbolize the unconscious and human dreams. At the same time, they can be seen as a labyrinth and associated with the choices we have to make at every crossroads in our lives. The all-encompassing net can have an disquieting effect as well as offering a sense of protection. For the Threads exhibition Shiota created the Life of Thread installation in which an antique sewing machine and a chair are enmeshed in an all-embracing labyrinth of black thread. It is as if the sewing machine is held captive by the very threads it produces. Once again Shiota has succeeded in keeping the phantoms of the night at bay.


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Berend Strik appropriates existing images and then ‘overwrites’ them with needle and thread. In his photography, architecture designs, embroidery and stained-glass works Strik broaches subjects that are often repudiated or repressed, such as pornography, (trans)sexuality and death. Photography has always played a central role in his works and from the outset he has felt a need to rework photos, which never seemed to him to be entirely finished. Initially he made a lot of collages, which involved cutting into photos. Then in 1986 he switched to a technique whereby the photo remained intact but could still be reworked using the techniques of embroidery, stitching and appliqué. He uses a wide range of materials, such as lace and ribbon, metal foil, felt, tulle, voile, velours and velvet, brocade and sequins. ‘It’s a curious technique, it allows you to make things soft,’ says Strik. Stitching through a photo with a sewing machine or by hand, alters the import of the original image. The softness of the stitching gives the themes in the photographs he uses a different meaning. This is especially the case with the pornographic images Strik took as his starting point around 1990. His Baroque series comprises small images from pornographic magazines that are machine stitched in such a way as to emphasize apparently insignificant parts while concealing other portions of the bodies. The softness and vulnerability of the material contrasts with the banal pornographic representation. The soft yarn forms a second skin as it were and renders the explicit scene less offensive. At the same time, through the penetrative act of stitching, the artist reinforces the sexual connotations of the photo. The reproduction of a naked woman tends to be associated with eroticism. The nakedness in the pornography is seldom associated with the vulnerability of the depicted female figure. Strik’s stitched images ‘return’ this association to the representation by covering the nakedness with thread and fabric. The two extremes – sexually explicit photos and supposedly ‘prudish’ embroidery – complement one another. The photo is the imaginary world; it is fleeting, fortuitous and only captures a passing moment. The stitching by contrast exists in the here and now. For Strik, reworking images with thread and fabric is a way of converting the photographic transience into something permanent and tangible. For the past year or so Strik has been reworking architectural photographs and photos taken during his travels through Africa, Israel and Palestine. Ostensibly everyday street scenes acquire a socio-political connotation as a result of his accentuation of whimsical forms and the emphasis on chiaroscuro effects.


BAROQUE 2003 textile on photograph Courtesy of Stephane Simoens Fine Art, Knokke © Berend Strik, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2014

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Lin Tianmiao draws on her background as a textile designer and her knowledge of weaving and embroidery in the making of socio-critical and surrealistic installations. She often refers in her work to the (changing) social position of women. After completing her studies at the Academy of Art in Beijing, she spent several years in New York, returning in 1995 to China, where she now lives.

MOTHER’S!!! NO. 7 (BROKEN) 2009 polyurea, silk, cotton Courtesy of Lin Tianmiao Studio

From very early in her artistic career, Lin acquired an international reputation for her ‘thread’ installations, which deal with themes such as the female body and domestic work. Figures and objects are woven together by a multitude of threads. In her installation The Proliferation of Thread Winding (1995), for example, we see a dream-like representation of a bed that is fastened to ping-pong-size balls on the floor by threads issuing from a vast quantity of needles in an oval hole in the bed. In her large-scale 1997 installation, Bound Unbound, the artist wound white cotton thread around 548 household objects, ranging from a hot water bottle and a wok to a foot warmer. Another installation, Constructive Dimension. Badges (2009) consists of dozens of cloth-filled embroidery hoops. The words embroidered on the cloth – Diva, Cougar, Dyke, Ho, Gold Digger – are words whose Chinese equivalents are applied to women. By enlarging such words in the form of a ‘badge’, a common element of the Chinese uniform, she is referring to the changing social position of women. The artist was struck by the fact that until twenty years ago there were hardly any Chinese words to designate the various roles and occupations of women. She consequently made a collection of new words that are used – often condescendingly – to characterize women. Mother’s!!! (broken) consists of a female figure cut in half and laid on a white silk background. Dozens of white ‘eggs’ appear to pour from her upper and lower body. The figure is wrapped in white silk and threads. In the 1960s and ’70s, white thread had a special meaning for the Chinese. The employees of stateowned enterprises regularly received new uniforms and white cotton knitted gloves. Given the then prevailing poverty and homogeneous clothing style, their old uniforms and gloves were welcome hand-me-downs for family members or friends. The white gloves were particularly popular; they were unravelled, and the yarn washed before being re-knitted to make ‘petit bourgeois’ clothes, tablecloths or curtains. As a child Lin disliked having to unravel the gloves, but the precious new item of clothing made from the white yarn left a lasting impression. White threads have been a regular feature of her work since 1995. In her recent work, including Mothers!!!, Lin uses mainly expensive and luxurious silk thread. In addition to white, she has started to use bright colours and gold and silver to wrap parts of the body and objects. The use of glossy fabrics suggests an implicit criticism of the growing penchant for a materialistic blingbling lifestyle in China.


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Remco Torenbosch’s work can be described as an in-depth analysis of socioeconomic processes. By as it were ‘unfolding’ the background, an insight into complex economic processes and socio-political meanings unfolds in his presentations. Whatever topics Torenbosch decides to tackle are explored in forensic detail. For example, he conducted a meticulous investigation of the production of the Financial Times newspaper (2009-2012), from content and distribution right down to its final use to paper over the windows of bankrupt shops.

EUROPEES BLAUW 2013-2014 Installation On loan from the artist

In his 2011 project Between Act and Protest: the Making of Political Textile or Making Textile Political, Torenbosch analysed the political aspect of the textile used to make banners, flags and canvas, which enjoys visual prominence during demonstrations and protest camps like those of the Occupy movement. His recent floor installation Salārium (2014) is part of a study of the history of salt as a means of payment. Salārium, the Latin word for salt (and the origin of ‘salary’), was once so valuable that it was used as a form of currency. Torenbosch focuses on the economic interests involved, in the past but also in the present day, because in some areas of the world salt is still used as a means of exchange. The European blue installation displays an obvious affinity with his other projects about the meaning of textile in political and social contexts. European blue comprises the results of his study of the most recognizable symbol of the European Union: the colour blue. This particular shade of blue was chosen years ago as a means of expressing the unity of the members of the European Union. The colour currently forms the backdrop to most of the European Union’s gatherings and is used for the European flag, tablecloths and chair coverings. Torenbosch delved into the history of the choice of this shade of blue and the iconography of the flag. It appears, for instance, that the colour is related to the Roman imperial purple. The twelve stars on the flag do not represent the member states – as in the case of the American flag – but turn out to have a connection with Christian symbolism. The artist discovered considerable colour variations in the supposedly uniform blue. The variations are the result of the fact that the production of the blue textile is allocated to local textile manufacturers in several countries. Paradoxically, this economically motivated political decision undermines the unity that the blue colour is intended to symbolize.




Lezingen, performances, workshops en film in Museum Arnhem

Presentaties in het kader van Threads: DRAADKRACHT 15 MAART – 17 AUGUSTUS IN MUSEUM ARNHEM Onder de titel Draadkracht, presentatie voortgezet onderwijs tonen scholieren kunstwerken in Museum Arnhem. Draadkracht is een samenwerkingsproject van het voortgezet onderwijs en de afdeling educatie van Museum Arnhem. Zes scholen, lid van de scholengemeenschap Quadraam, hebben meegewerkt aan het project Draadkracht. Docenten CKV zijn in september 2013 uitgenodigd in het museum, waar zij een inleiding hebben gekregen op de tentoonstelling Threads. Textiel in kunst & vormgeving. De docenten hebben de thematiek van de tentoonstelling overgebracht naar hun leerlingen en deze aan het werk gezet. Het project resulteerde in meer dan 200 inzendingen van ruim 400 deelnemers. Per school zijn drie werken geselecteerd en voorgedragen aan een jury. De winnende objecten worden geëxposeerd in Draadkracht, presentatie voortgezet onderwijs, als onderdeel van de tentoonstelling Threads. De overige inzendingen zijn opgenomen in een digitale presentatie. In hun bijdragen komt de veelzijdigheid van het thema Draadkracht tot uiting. Opvallend is dat de leerlingen vaak voor een zeer persoonlijke uitvoering van het thema hebben gekozen. Draadkracht wordt onder andere verbonden aan herinneringen, emoties en identiteit. Deelnemende scholen zijn Montessori College Arnhem, Stedelijk Gymnasium Arnhem, Liemers College, Beekdal Lyceum en Candea College Duiven.

BREIKRACHT Breikracht is een On- en offline community voor het in stand houden en vernieuwen van het ambacht breien. Initiatiefnemers zijn ArtEZ Hogeschool voor de Kunsten en Arnhem Mode Incubator. Partners van Breikracht zijn: Granny’s finest, Kunstbedrijf Arnhem, Museum Arnhem, het Nederlands Openluchtmuseum, Stitch ’n Bitch, The Woolmark Company en de provincie Gelderland. Zie voor presentaties en lezingen:

THREADS IN ROZET. ERFGOEDCENTRUM Tijdens de thematentoonstelling Threads zijn in Rozet door het hele gebouw facetten van textiel te zien. De nadruk ligt op materialen en technieken om van draad iets te maken, in heden en verleden, door professionals én amateurbeoefenaars. Met onder meer ingebonden boeken in het Erfgoedcentrum, duurzame en innovatieve draden op de trappen in de binnenstraat en resultaten van experimenten met schapenwol. Zie voor workshops en activiteiten:

THREADS IN FOCUS FILMTHEATER ARNHEM Locatie: Korenmarkt 42, Arnhem 13 april: GABBEH, door Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Iran 1997, met inleiding door Daniëlle Wanders (Arnhem Mode Incubator, Het Praktijkbureau) 15 juni: Ju Dou, film van Zhang Yimou uit 1990, met inleiding door Mirjam Westen


15 maart • Performance Knitting Machine door Merel Karhof • Locatie: beeldentuin Museum Arnhem • 16 maart • Artist Talk: Aisha Khalid 6 april • The Performance Table. Yael Davids • Stitch ’n Bitch in museumcafé 11 mei • Stitch ’n Bitch in museumcafé 18 mei • Wind. Performance Marie Julia Bollansée • The Performance Table. Yael Davids 25 mei • Wearable Solar. Lezing Pauline van Dongen 15 juni • Artist talk: Natalia-Gluklya Pershina • BOOM, dansperformance. Choreografie: Simone Repele. Dansers: Alberto Villanueva & Simone Repele 22 juni • Innovatieve knitwear, soft-tech en handwerk. Presentatie Connie Groenewegen • Workshop onder leiding van ontwerper Carolien Evers • Stitch ’n Bitch in museumcafé 29 juni • Artist talk: Remco Torenbosch 17 augustus • Workshop Golden Joinery i.s.m. Saskia van Drimmelen • The Performance Table. Yael Davids

Threads. Textile in art & design is published on the occasion of the exhibition, March 14 – August 17, 2014, organized by Museum Arnhem, Netherlands. EDITOR Mirjam Westen AUTHORS Isabel Bisseling, Dennis Bouma, Femke Hogendijk, Eveline Holsappel, Marie Stel, Mirjam Westen GRAPHIC DESIGN O.K. PARKING, Arnhem PRINT Editoo, Arnhem PHOTOGRAPHY Marc Pluim and artists TRANSLATION Robyn de Jong-Dalziel, Wendy van Os-Thompson ISBN/EAN: 978-90-72861-53-5 Title: Threads. Textiel in kunst en vormgeving / Textile in art & design Publisher: Museum Arnhem Bibliographic imprint: NUR-code: 644 NUR-description: Tentoonstellingscatalogi Utrechtseweg 87 6812 AA Arnhem t 31 (0)26 3031400 © artists, authors, Museum Arnhem, 2014 c/o Pictoright Amsterdam All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. THE EXHIBITION AND THE CATALOGUE ARE REALIZED WITH THE SUPPORT OF CULTUURFONDS PRINS BERNHARD / NETTY VAN DOORN FONDS MONDRIAAN FONDS SNS REAALFONDS


kfHein Fonds Stichting Niemeijer Fonds

MUSEUM ARNHEM WORDT GESTEUND DOOR Gemeente Arnhem BankGiro Loterij VGZ AAA (Arnhem Arts Ambassadors) VVMA 62








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