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jourUNfixe 1

Threads - Contemporary Embroidery Art


A workshop talk with Britta Kadolsky.

The workshop talk is dedicated to the thread, the needle and embroidery in art.

21. 11. 2021  1-3pm.

Embroidery - Art - Community


The participants were familiar with working with textiles, some with a direct focus on embroidery, some with a background in patchwork/quilting and in dressmaking and pattern construction.

I have always been fascinated by the improvised and hand-me-down methods of making, what influence hand movement, intuition and sensitivity to the material have on the things that come out of making and on the moment and on oneself.



There is no novelty that is wholly novel. There’re always antecedent conditions.

Cornel West (MasterClass)

Sankofa - a word in the Akan (Twi) and Fante languages of Ghana that literally means "to go back and get".
The going back to the best in order to move forward. African philosophy attributes a crucial role to those who came before us.

Cornel asks - Why Is it important? Because if you start to philosophize, you begin with a spirit of humility; there is no philosopher who is self-made. Every human is born with a cry for help. ... . You can move toward autonomy, toward independence, but all concepts of independence are already presupposing your dependence.

During the Renaissance, embellishment, what we now call textile surface design, was clearly separated from the so-called arts. From then on, women were not allowed to train as artists. That didn't change until the 20th century. I wonder if the devaluation attached to textile work has to do with the fact that it was primarily women who wrote its history (which in turn changed in industrialization, where machines took over the 'making' in a big way).
Immersed in the infinite possibilities of design and the almost infinite combinations of methods of needlework, I can not discover any significant differences with art, except perhaps that textile can also be used literally.

Anyway, on Sunday, we enjoyed getting involved with the methods of embroidery as a craft. Suppose you stick the needle with thread into the fabric, pull the thread out, wrap the thread around the needle several times, rethread the thread, and carefully manoeuvre through the tower of threads. In that case, you get a different thread pattern than if you stick the needle from the top down and wrap it around the needle while the thread is still in the eye.  Or if you put the needle from top to bottom and then again - with some distance - on the surface and then wrap the tip with the thread several times. Then you have, as a result, what is called the Rococo Stitch.

Where does the distinction between craft, artisanry, and art begin? Does it even make sense to make such differentiation? When is art meaningful, when 'pure' decoration, when private, when general? What role do local and international influences, paternalism and oppression play? What role do traditions, folk art, skill and improvisation play? What forms of art are significant for our time? The list of questions can be extended.

I watched, and I mentioned it already in my text on MACHEN 3, Cornel West's MasterClass, last weekend. He is an American philosopher and activist. His MasterClass is about philosophy as a practice, as a guide, as a means of self-inquiry and self-instruction. He talks about the personal fingerprint we leave behind when we engage with the world we live in and give expression to that engagement. If we want to find out what makes us unique and yet connected to the big picture.
Suppose we place art where philosophy has its home, where it is about the love of wisdom, about truth in philosophy and its equivalent in art, beauty. In that case, making art is a way of asking questions and seeking answers, as a human being among human beings, on this earth. It is about questioning certain assumptions that one has and finding honest and revealing answers.

In making art - taking earthly stuff in our hands -   and in conversation, we can find answers.

courtesy Dagmar Carolus

Sankofa and the Rococo Stitch

Carolin Kropff

On Sunday, November 21, in the afternoon jourUNfixe 1 Threads - Contemporary Embroidery Art, took place on-site and via ZOOM. It was all about embroidery and art.
Britta allowed an introduction and overview, presenting contemporary examples exhibited in museums and Dokumenta 14:
Lee Mingwei with his THE MENDING PROJECT, 2009-2018:

The gesture of mending for me has different levels of meaning. The most obvious is that a piece of clothing is broken and needs repair. It could also be in (a) completely different conversation about how the world is today. There are so many things that are broken in the world now, with politics, the climate, relationships between people, between countries. Can we do something about it? I know I am just an artist and all I can do at this moment is something close to me. So let me start with our second skin: the clothes that we are wearing.
Britta Marakatt-Labba, Historja, 2003-2007, Embroidery, print, appliqué, wool on linen, a meter-long presentation of figurative embroidery about the history of the Sami people in northern Europe.
The exhibition: Active Threads - KAI 10 | ARTHENA FOUNDATION
show in Düsseldorf 2021 examined the potential of textile works - for their social, political and artistic expressiveness.
The exhibition touches on geopolitical conflicts, latent and overt postcolonial wounds, examples of civil protest, and motifs of fan culture.
It shows the many ways in which textiles can become catalysts for social and cultural processes. The exhibition documents how fabric weaves and textile techniques can contain political messages, decor transforms into radical symbolism or fabrics store memories and preserve our material environment.
-  writes Britta in her presentation.
For example, she cites Kyungah Ham, What you see is the unseen / Chandeliers for Five Cities BK 03-05, 2016-17.
She talks about the tablecloth that Doris Dörrie, the director, embroidered during the lockdown.
You can find more information on her website:

jourUNfixe 1 was supported by the Hessische Kulturstiftung - Brückenstipendium

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