A diverse and inclusive art world in the making
by Vatsala SethiDec 26, 2022
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Dilpreet BhullarPublished on : Sep 29, 2022
To find a cavity in the slice of bread neatly stitched by the web of white thread to the bread side is an unusual encounter between an art piece and the viewer. This is the first work of art, formally called Everyday Bread by Slovakian artist Terézia Krnáčová, with which I was acquainted, only to raise my curiosity to know more about her cultural art practice. For the unversed, the traditional cultural art of Slovakia is deep-rooted in the various forms of textile craft including embroidery. The technique of making intricate patterns of embroidered textile requires dexterity, skill and patience. When the seeds of inquisitivity were sown, they rightly made me draw a parallel between the presence of circuits of white thread and the porous texture of the brown bread. Despite the tensions, the proximity of two different kinds of materiality led me to arrive at a point of finding similarities in terms of the necessity of the skill pertinent to the making of dough and embroidery.
Speaking with STIR, the textile artist mentions, "I think, I live conceptually. I see similarity and sameness. I like to combine two diverse things for a better description of the idea. In everyday life, people around the world need food and also they are wearing clothes. Those are two main social facts, which connect us, everyone to everyone. For this reason, I like to use food in my artworks.” Even if the textile and making of it share a strong presence in Slovakia, textile art is still at a nascent stage. When Krnáčová began her academic study in textile art, she advertently enrolled for the tutorials on textile history. In the times of the quick fix and hustlers, the traditional modes of stitching may seem dated. Yet, in the digital age, Krnáčová learns and practices the original ways of weaving to keep the memory and history alive. This was evident in her latest exhibition at Gallery FX in Banská Bystrica, which did not have a title – an act to defy the conventional definition of what constitutes an exhibition.
The exhibition with the six artworks each, with a special name Catching The Light; The Allowed Threads; The Connection; The Donations I; The Donations II; and The Donations III was a response to her on-going doctoral programme – a research on the mutual intervention of fine and applied art. For the fibre artist, this exhibition reflected on the material and non-material aspects of contemporary art and everyday life. Krnáčová mentions, “I consider thread as a connection, as a basic cell for any built-environment. The works in the exhibition carry an important process of creation and change - how the art pieces can be manipulated in the hands of the artist and audience alike.”
In tandem with the architecture of the Gallery FX, which has a large window for the public to gaze in, the first artwork, Catching The Light, a site-specific installation by the windows, represented the connection between interior and exterior. Created out of transparent plastic threads in a vertical direction and a few of some wool colour threads as well, the art installation is a response to the outdoor dominants visibility from the gallery. This artwork represented a warp in process of weaving. Interestingly, the change in the daylight translated the artwork to lend a new meaning to it.
More often than not, fibre art could be dubbed as just another piece of craft. For the artist, fibre art is not just about the threads, the abstract threads could be the manifestation of thoughts or sentences. “Look at what the written sentence looks like. The graphic visuality of the sentence is a horizontal line. It represents weft in a woven fabric. Maybe textile looks closely tied to memory and nostalgia because of traditional craft techniques. Making textiles and making food needs huge patience and craftsmanship. I am interested in the connection between horizontal and vertical lines. This idea resulted in the artwork Weaved Words.” To mention, this artwork is going to be part of the sixth edition of the international Textile Art Biennial 2022 (October 22 – 30, 2022) in Portugal.
The idea of sharing and caring is tied to textiles and food – the two components available in her practice. When in despair people require these two life essentials for survival. Giving a pragmatic perspective to this notion, Krnáčová created two works, Donations I and Donations II. The presence of a tailoring studio in the gallery helped the artist to let the people participate in the making of the textiles, which were later suspended in the space. “I was working and sewing – resewing clothes for a time period of two weeks for seven hours. The passers-by entered the studio and worked in an effort to redesign with my help. They brought their piece of clothes — a material kind of gift. I gave them my time and skills — a nonmaterial gift. After they redesigned, the new piece was a gift for an art installation.” The participatory nature of the exhibition was extended a step further – when the fashion designer was involved, who introduced the public to the making of haute couture. In the words of Krnáčová, this installation was set into motion by the “human connection, mediated by sewing activity.”
What interests Krnáčová is when people see metaphors in her art. "I am working in layers conceptually,” says the artist. Given the availability of layers in her work – the act of de-entanglement in the minds of viewers could bring a new meaning to the installations by Krnáčová.
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