Istanbul Modern presents ‘Global Narratives in Textiles’

Istanbul Modern presents ‘Global Narratives in Textiles’

Istanbul Modern presents ‘Global Narratives in Textiles’

Organized in collaboration with Germany’s long-standing art establishment the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations and with the support of the Goethe-Institut Istanbul, the exhibition “The Event of a Thread: Global Narratives in Textiles” features works by international artists who use textile to create aesthetic and cultural narratives through painting, photography, archive materials, objects, installations, and video works. 

Starting in Dresden, Germany, “The Event of a Thread” travelled to Kuwait before making its way to Istanbul. The exhibition builds on the original selection by creating new connections in each institution it travels to, with the assistance of curators at each institution and the addition of new works from local artists.

Curated by Susanne Weiß and Inka Gressel on the invitation of ifa, and co-curated by Istanbul Modern’s Öykü Özsoy, the exhibition focuses on the historical, social and cultural meanings of fabrics, and investigates the various uses of textile as a tool of expression. 

The exhibition features the works of artists who come from different parts of the world and who use textile as a tool of artistic expression: 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 and Vincent Vulsma, Gülsün Karamustafa, Servet Koçyiğit, Eva Meyer and Eran Schaerf, Karen Michelsen Castañón, İrfan Önürmen, Judith Raum, Sabire Susuz, and Franz Erhard Walther. 

“One of our primary motivations for this collaboration with ifa was the preference of some of the artists represented in the Istanbul Modern Collection to use textile as a form of artistic expression. Another was the fact that modern and contemporary art in Turkey contains both ancient and contemporary references to textile materials. Having started in Germany, the exhibition evolved through the works of local artists and became further enriched by new creations as it made its way to Turkey,” said Oya Eczacıbaşı, the board chair of Istanbul Modern, at the exhibition’s opening on Feb. 21. 

Istanbul Modern curator Öykü Özsoy said, “The Event of a Thread” demonstrates the variety of opportunities provided by textile 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.” 

“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 of the indigenous people of Wichí in Argentina, and from Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu’s revival and adoption of the long-forgotten tradition of yazma to Burhan Doğançay’s tapestries created at the Aubusson workshops. 

The exhibition also includes a large installation about the textile workshops at the Bauhaus, the school which created new trends in architecture, design, and art in the 20th century and is the focus of various exhibitions around the world this year to celebrate its centenary. Similarly, “The Event of a Thread” touches on the School of Applied Fine Arts, which was established in 1957 as a reflection of the Bauhaus in Turkey. To this end, it presents for the first time a selection from the archive of over 1000 slides belonging to Harald Schmidt, one of the school’s professors from Germany who taught here for close to 40 years. 

Special commission 

With the support of the Goethe-Institut Istanbul, artist Şakir Gökçebağ has created a special commission for the exhibition. Gökçebağ decontextualizes everyday objects belonging to individuals and rearranges them site-specifically into new narratives. Among the artist’s main objects of focus are oriental rugs, which he has also rearranged site-specifically in his work “Cosmos” commissioned for the exhibition. 

One of the special areas in the exhibition has been dedicated to Eyüboğlu, the first artist to develop a synthesis between painting and embroidery, textiles, and yazma traditions in Turkey.

The show presents a selection of the multi-faceted artist’s yazma, in addition to a selection of his never-before-seen fabric-printing blocks. Another special area in the exhibition features contemporary images taken by photographer Ziya Tacir at the studio and house designed by architect Turgut Cansever in 1958, which Eyüboğlu shared with his wife, the artist Eren Eyüboğlu, and where he worked and lived until his death in 1975. 

The exhibition will be open through July 7.