1 March to 6 May 2012
On Saturday 3rd March I visited Raven Row to see the exhibition of historic textiles collected by Seth Siegelaub over the past thirty years, for the Center for Social Research on Old Textiles (CSROT).
It was a thrilling to see, and read about the history of woven, printed textiles and embroideries from fifth-century Coptic to Pre-Columbian Peruvian, late medieval Asian and Islamic textiles, and Renaissance to eighteenth-century European silks and velvets, even Barkcloth (tapa) from the Pacific region (image left: tapa from Papua New Guinea) and Africa.
Its thrilling because, many of the fabrics are not behind glass. You could, although discrete signage encourages you not too, reach-out and touch them. This proximity to stuff, and the trust implicit in its exhibition, is thrilling
The headdresses are amazing!
Seth Siegelaub played a pivotal role in the emergence of what became known as Conceptual Art, through a series of art exhibitions in groundbreaking formats he organised between 1968 and 1971. In 1972 he left the art world and moved to Paris, where he published and collected leftist books on communication and culture. In the early eighties he began collecting textiles and books about textiles, and in 1986 founded CSROT, which conducts research on the social history of hand-woven textiles. In 1997 he edited and published the first general bibliography on the history of textiles, the Bibliographica Textilia Historiae.
And so its interesting to view the CSROT research project - which aims to contribute to a more critical understanding of the social history of textiles through the lens of Conceptual Art. Stuff made to matter by thought, classification and feeling.