The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art

I wasn't sure about visiting this show at the Barbican. The tickets are expensive nowadays and I hadn't read up beforehand what to expect. I was enthralled, intrigued, inspired and teary by the end of the visit. The use of textiles in politics and protest is an ancient tradition, when women had no say but could be subversive sending messages and support using 'women's work'. The tears came towards the end of the first floor, reading about Bearing Witness of murder and police brutality. Teresa Margolles worked with friends and family of Eric Garner, held in an illegal chokehold by a NYPD officer creating a mixed media embroidery accompanied by a powerful video.

Teresa margolles  Gees bend  Vanessa Pettway Gees bend

Joy came from seeing Loretta Pettway's double sided quilt, a huge Magdalena Abakanowicz hanging, Igshaan Adams' Prayer Clouds - tangled wires suspended creating fluffy shadows on the floor.

 Igshaan Adams  Igshaan Adams  Louise Bourgeois

A single Louise Bourgeois floating figure Arch of Hysteria, also casting an animated shadow as it drifts in response to movement in the gallery. I like that the shadow is running off the side of the circular low plinth.

Cecilia Vicuna Animita

So many more, but the piece that has stayed with me is by Cecilia Vicuña 'Animita (Spirit House) for Salvador Allende 1974/2023' a collection of delicate assemblages of found materials woven and tied with thread. Offerings to the elements or little prayers, inviting us to pay attention to our ancestors, listen to ourselves and reflect on how we can make changes to our world. Something for me to explore further and thing about.

Cecilia Vicuna  Cecilia Vicuna Animita  Cecilia Vicuna

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