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El universo se encogió
en madejas fantasmales

El universo se encogió en madejas fantasmales is an exhibition that draws inspiration from the vast number of cultural products created throughout the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries in which artists, activists and citizens have resorted to textile practices (sewing, embroidering, weaving, darning, among others) to show the collapse of the political, economic and social systems that dominate the current state of the world. Given their common association with feminine expressions, these practices have been labeled as primitive, prelinguistic, or even infantile ways of relating to reality and are consequently denied the possibility of participating in the general configuration of the world. With this problem in mind, the exhibition brings together works in different media, as well as documentation derived from social movements, where weaving or embroidery is a vehicle for the political and historical enunciation of subordinate subjects.

Some of the most poignant examples of this situation can be found in South America during the 1970s and 1980s, under the yoke of military dictatorships. Following the disappearance of thousands of people carried out by these regimes, women resorted to their domestic roles as mothers, wives and sisters, becoming a fundamental force of resistance. In Argentina, the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a self-organized group of mothers of “disappeared”, implemented different creative strategies that allowed them to protest and gave them the necessary visibility to avoid being arrested. For example, they embroidered on white handkerchiefs the names of their absent relatives - along with the dates of disappearance and legends such as "appearance alive" - and wore them publicly, on their heads. For years they met in courthouses, on the streets and in city squares wearing their distinctive veils, a reminder of the ghostly presence of their loved ones. In Chile, the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet produced an even more intense climate of repression where women took refuge in activities that would take place under the shelter of local churches, which offered a safe space; working-class women met there so they could talk and cook together. Such a feeling of protection allowed them to mitigate their pain by embroidering appliqué scenes on arpilleras (potato sacks made of cloth) that could hardly be told in any other way: famine, murders, disappearances, torture. This therapeutic tool became essential for public denunciation at the international level and, thus, the arpilleras were later imported by a religious human rights association and sold as handicrafts.

Both examples highlight the concept of metis, which extensively informs the exhibition. The anthropologist James C. Scott reinterprets this Greek concept in Seeing as a State, a book that highlights the use of empirical, practical and local knowledge - as well as popular skills - to solve problems that, in his words, are rapidly destroyed by capitalism bureaucratic and replaced by standardized processes. Scott used this term in relation to large-scale state operations (for example, urban design) that generally fail in their tasks. Most of the works collected here have been created without concern for originality or artistic prowess. On the contrary, given the indifference and negligence of the state, its existence is triggered by the imperative need to solve its problems in its own hands. The universe shrunk into ghostly skeins therefore offers a fragmented and selective itinerary where various forms of counterproduction are assembled, a term inspired by the counterculture whose objective is to challenge the status quo. Counterproduction posits that cultural production can oppose the principles by which value is assigned to itself (that is, as singular objects of art) as well as to industrialized production. Certainly, cultural objects can undermine the historical narratives that sustain oppressive entities (the state, capitalism, etc.), but the role they play within these systems needs to be reconceptualized.

The attempts carried out by these works to destabilize the hegemony of these narratives are greatly influenced by the emergence and expansion of new disciplines and research methodologies: postcolonial studies, queer theory, criticism of ethnography and, mainly , feminist theory. However, the proposal distances itself from practices that postulate themselves as activists (for example, craftivism) and instead seeks to promote new ways of conceiving historical production. By highlighting the durational nature of indigenous and domestic activities such as knitting, sewing and embroidery, it advocates the socialization of historical events rather than their isolated and immediate experience.

In the hands of the artists involved, the potential of these practices to become vehicles for an emancipatory politics is explored while they become allies to imagine, plot, project and demand a different world. Taking viewers through different coordinates, The Universe Shrunk into Ghostly Hanks deals with issues related to work, housing, women's rights and political violence from the lens of those who have been considered, from a hegemonic perspective, subjects subordinates. I hope this is the starting point from which an archive where politics and poetics converge begins to unravel, a selective and fragmented compendium of the collapse of the neoliberal condition.

In addition to bringing together the work of nine local artists of different generations, the exhibition will display a visual archive of the main references that nourish research: social movements, non-Western models of historical transmission and forms of information storage, as well as storytelling. literary, which challenge the invented tradition of textile practices as mere technical procedures that evoke “feminine” sensibilities within the patriarchal order.

Fabiola Iza 

Eunice Adorno
Sandra Calvo
Virginia Colwell
Veronica Gerber,
Ana Hernandez
Teresa Margolles
Marge monko
Nuria Montiel 
Chantal Penalosa
Rafaela Tellaeche. 

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