Majd Abdel Hamid
Mounira Al Solh
Yto Barrada
Taysir Batniji
Alighiero e Boetti
Michele Cohen
Janna Dyk
Mona Hatoum
Sheila Hicks
Annette Messager
Khalil Rabah
Karen Reimer
Nasri Sayegh
Laure Tixier
Raed Yassin

7 September13 November 2016
Beirut Art Center, Beirut, Lebanon

Curated by Rachel Dedman and Marie Muracciole

Following At the Seams: A Political History of Palestinian Embroidery, which I curated for the Palestinian Museum, I was invited by Marie Muracciole of Beirut Art Center to co-curate an exhibition exploring embroidery in the practice of contemporary artists working across the Middle-East and internationally.

Embroidery has always been a practice of the periphery, so when an artist includes it in his or her practice, it brings to the surface of art a critical dimension: it offers opportunity to engage with questions of labour and process, the gendered gesture, and dichotomies of construction and concealment. Vocabulary doesn’t value this activity: to embroider is to bring deceitful elements to something, to embellish a story. Embroidering therefore means hiding a surface, playing with the authority of material, challenging its integrity.

The repetitive binding of thread to fabric brings physical structure to material; embroidery organises space and marks the passing of time, both of which have a relationship to contemporary economies. Embroidery is historically connected to elite leisure, yet simultaneously practiced for income by women with little social power. Paying attention to embroidery made by hand addresses the invisibility of craftswomen and men, and drives us to engage with the complexity of a practice with both a gentrified past and commodified present. Embroidery today is a mode through which such issues might be negotiated, subverted and unravelled.

Unravelled was reviewed by L'Orient Le Jour.


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