ESSERE È TESSERE 100 fili d’artista dalla collezione Canclini (TO BE IS TO WEAVE 100 artist threads from the Canclini collection) is a quote from an environmental project by Maria Lai conceived for the town of Aggius.
The exhibition is promoted by the Fondazione Stelline with the support of the company Canclini Tessile spa. Carefully selected artifacts from ancient and contemporary art will take us on a voyage through the world of textile art explaining how weaving, weft, warp, and raw materials like silk, wool and cotton, have become the leading actors of this truly expressive language.
Curator Chiara Gatti flanks 40 artifacts from ancient, tribal, and exotic art, linked with civilizations of diverse epochs and regions, be it pre-Columbian, Middle-eastern, Asian or African, with 40 works from contemporary art, including important contributions from artists such as Alighiero Boetti, César, Christo, Christian Boltansky, Maria Lai, Jannis Kounellis, Jorge Eielson, Hermann Nitsch, Lucy+Jorge Orta, Yayoi Kusama. The ultimate goal of this voyage is to explore the various stages of that innate bond rooted in anthropology that seems to interlace past and present, demonstrating the love shared by artists for weft and warp as elements of a parallel expressive language.
Plays on geometry, alternating rhythms, labyrinths of colors and patterns, sequences, chessboards, bands, knots, and embroidery echo as the traces of an unconscious thinking in primitive weaving, as well as the aesthetic reflections of the 20th century. It is the story of an instinctive call for composition, materials, technique, the result yielded by a mental order that has always existed, beyond temporal and spatial borders. A universal order.
Suffice it to compare Piero Dorazio’s grids from the 1960’s and 1970’s with the famous ‘molas’, fabric paintings embroidered by the Kuna indigenous women from Panama, to understand their similarities. Or the cloth backpacks by Kimsooja, the artist of Korean descent who has investigated the theme of travel viewed as a migratory process, with the Shahsavand wool and cotton from Azerbaijan, used by nomadic shepherds of the East between the 18th and the 19th centuries.
Another emblematic case is represented by the sequence of words stitched together for Alighiero Boetti by the workshop of Afghan embroiderers, which is displayed here beside the same nuances of Kelim Golbarjasta or tubeteika, the headdresses from Central Asia used in western Turkestan. The knots in denim by Peruvian Jorge Eduardo Eielson brings to mind the symbols of “quipu” from the Inca empire: the knot viewed as a language, a method for writing and accounting, for measuring time in calendars, or compiling census records. An exciting comparison is offered by the raw jute canvases crossed by the rhythmic segments by Giorgio Griffa with the Ikat from Uzbekistan: they share the same rhythm, an analogous sense of managing the space with colors as though they were sound frequencies, heart beats.
The Canclini collection is rich with works like the ones on display and was built throughout the ninety years of a family-run business, pivoting on a dialogue between ancient and contemporary artifacts in search of an ideal bond.
Completing the exhibition are interesting archival documents, rare specimens of vintage samples, and working tools that have become icons of a craft rooted in the history of man since his origin.