THE EVENT OF A THREAD. ISTANBUL EDITION. Istanbul Modern 22. Februar – 7. Juli 2019
Textiles are at the heart of the ifa touring exhibition, which focuses on questions including: What inherent meanings and messages can be found in fabrics? What is their cultural significance? How can textiles be ‘read’? What can fabrics tell us about their origins, meanings and social roles? Which traditional textile techniques have artists appropriated, abstracted, relocated and brought back to life? Textiles constitute a locus in which art encounters handicraft, traditions meet the present day, and local knowledge intersects with global relationships.
The exhibition highlights the multiple complex ways in which the participating artists work with textiles. They link personal and aesthetic narratives with the social and economic configuration of a globalized world.
In 1965, Bauhaus artist Anni Albers described “the event of a thread” as something multilinear, without beginning or end: more broadly, it signifies constant scope to rethink relations and to restructure connections and contexts.
“The Event of a Thread” exhibition at the Istanbul Modern is the first edition where the core of the exhibition with 12 artistic positions encounters 13 artistic positions from the collection of the Istanbul Modern. On two floors it presents 25 international contemporary artists, who use textile to create aesthetic and cultural narratives through objects, installations and video works. The exhibition focuses on the historical, social and cultural meanings of fabrics, investigates the various uses of textile as a tool of expression and brings together different artistic positions that interact with one another within the exhibition space.
In the exhibition, weaving threads are utilized as a metaphor, which facilitate the interaction of weaving styles, stories and production techniques from different cultures, and mediate the development of new connections between them.
“The Event of a Thread” brings together a variety of stories ranging from the tradition of quipu used by ancient Andean cultures in South America to the textile techniques from the indigenous people of Wichí in Argentine and from Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu’s revival and adoption of the long-forgotten tradition of yazma (originally used for hand-painted kerchief) to Burhan Doğançay’s tapestries created at the Aubusson workshops. One of the two special areas in the exhibition has been dedicated to Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu (1911-1975), the first artist to develop a synthesis between painting and embroidery, textiles and yazma traditions in Turkey. A selection of Eyüboğlu’s yazma in addition to a selection of his never-before-seen fabric-printing block plates are presented in the “The Event of a Thread” exhibition. The other special area in the exhibition has been dedicated to the overlooked history of the weaving workshop of the Bauhaus, the art school that influenced art and design education around the world upon its establishment by Walter Gropius in Germany, in 1919. Artist Judith Raum developed “The Bauhaus Space”, an installation in which we encounter rewoven fabrics and historic materials in a specially designed display that unfolds the extraordinary success of the Bauhaus workshop in six chapters. For Istanbul with the archive of Harald Schmidt a seventh chapter has been created.
Starting in Dresden, “The Event of a Thread” exhibition travelled to Kuwait before making its way to Istanbul. The touring exhibition demonstrates the variety of opportunities provided by textiles as a multifaceted tool of expression in addition to its purpose as a surface produced via the systematic integration of yarn layers, warps and wefts. Social, cultural and historical narratives are untied from threads of fabric and rearranged for us to create new connections between them.
ifa is the oldest international cultural and educational relations body in Germany. It promotes peaceful coexistence between people and cultures worldwide. ifa values contemporary art as an important medium for international dialogue and organizes exhibitions on contemporary visual arts, architecture, design, and photography that place current discourses within a broader context all over the world and create local platforms for encounters.
With Belkıs Balpınar, Ulla von Brandenburg, Hussein Chalayan, Burhan Doğançay, Noa Eshkol, Andreas Exner, Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu, Uli Fischer, Şakir Gökçebağ, Zille Homma Hamid, Heide Hinrichs, Olaf Holzapfel, Gözde İlkin, Christa Jeitner, Elisa van Joolen & Vincent Vulsma, Gülsün Karamustafa, Servet Koçyiğit, Eva Meyer & Eran Schaerf, Karen Michelsen Castañón, İrfan Önürmen, Judith Raum, Sabire Susuz, Franz Erhard Walther andBauhaus Space, Harald Schmidt Archive, Ziya Tacir
Curators: Susanne Weiß and Inka Gressel (ifa, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) together Öykü Özsoy (Istanbul Modern) Curatorial Team: Ümit Mesci, Deniz Pehlivaner all photographs: Ugur Eren