Pleats of the Middle East
In her amazing Cosmic Drapery Project “nonad”, Iran-based American artist Kristen Alvanson unfolds nomadic fabric chadors and unfurls new aesthetics of their cultural and socio-political formations. Veils, flags, chadors, patterns, textures – Alvanson's profound artistic examinations reveal arcane secrets. by Irmgard Berner
Huge fabrics of 350 x 150 centimetres still cover thousands of middle eastern women’s bodies. It is the size of nomadic fabric chadors. Kristen Alvanson examines in large photographs, drawings and space-filling installations textures, patterns, cuts and their ambiguous allure of imperfection. Orbiting the garments’ fabrics, sculptural looks and socio-political relevance she writes in her project-essay: “Once homogenous policies or ideologies belonging to the State pass through such structural but elemental imperfections, they develop into schisms. Influenced by the incompatibility between the inherent logics of the structure on the one hand and ideology or mode of politics imposed on it on the other, these schisms bring about new possibilities of creativity not anticipated by either the structure or its ideological image”.
Important to her is to reveal the beyond and the beneath hidden in the folds and pleats of nomadic fabric chadors. Irregular seams on unequal segments, seemingly random and erratic joints are subject of her inquiry: “Hence in this project, imperfection is seen as an asset rather than a flaw or lack. Here, imperfections are punctures to facilitate the emergence of the suppressed yet fundamental ambiguities, amphibian inclinations and profound diffusions”, she further says.
In the Cosmic Drapery Project, the feminine is the catalyst around which these experimentations take form and flow. “Art then becomes the medium for enveloping the pulsating presence and ethereal territories of collective realms which inconsistently vacillate between objects in themselves and established socio-political and cultural formations.”
Kristen Alvanson's art-work in the ongoing Cosmic Drapery Project is a fascinating, live and collective experience in unfolding the enigma of the Middle East through both established and less common manifests of its drapery. It is nurtured by the history of textiles in the Middle East. This history includes both clashes and secret dialogues between state and nomad art, their folk beliefs, textiles and modes of creativity.
Artist Alvanson works with the scientific preciseness of an archeologist and the profoundness of a philosopher.
For more information:
Re-Nomad: The art of Kristen Alvanson by Reza Negarestani
Kristen Alvanson (Shiraz / New York)
nomadic fabric chador sculptures
abjad-9 ink drawings and animations
Opening: Friday, May 23, 2008, 4-8 pm
no. 41, Salmas Sq., Golha Sq., Tehran
+98 21 88008676