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Battleground: War Rugs from Afghanistan

 

1. War rug showing land mine victims, Afghanistan, late 20th century, 96 x 72 cm,
Textile Museum of Canada (note missing limbs)

  

Close to You: Contemporary Textiles, Intimacy and Popular Culture

handwork

Instalation view of Scott Kindall video "Handwork" 2006 with  Ai Kijima 's 2006 quilt "Brun It UP" in background

 

When the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Afghan weavers found their world turned upside down, the sky and the earth thick with weaponry. On their rugs flowers turned into cluster bombs, birds turned into airplanes. The disaster continued with ten years of brutal civil war. And it continues today as international forces battle in an ancient land that has exploded.

Battleground: War Rugs from Afghanistan

curated by Max Allen April 23, 2008 January 27 2009


The terror of bombs falling from the sky and land mines exploding from the earth is revealed in Battleground: War Rugs from Afghanistan. Through three decades of international and civil war, Afghans have borne witness to disaster by weaving unprecedented images of battle and weaponry into their rugs. This exhibition presents 118 rugs that tell the story of the Afghan world turned upside down.


Battleground: War Rugs from Afghanistan presents catastrophe turned into art.

 

BATTLEGROUND PROJECT


The major exhibition that opened in Toronto and of national importance this May was The Battle Ground Project at the Textile Museum of Canada. An exhibition in three parts, the first two: “The Kandahar Journals of Richard Johnson” line drawings and writings depicting a record of “a record of military life and the relationship between Afghans and Canadians” could be of vintage World War Two if not for the uniforms and give little to no evidence of a relationship between the foreign military presence (a nephew of mine being one of them) and the local populaces other then a more romanticized one which “line drawings” can do much easier then staged/ or conveniently cropped photographs that are most likely what main stream media feeds us. There are many images of this constantly changing, perpetually redefined military action on the inter net and in other non mainstream media outlets with a more frank and understanding meanings that aren’t sanitized like Johnson’s work which is featured in the National Post

 

and “Patches: Military Uniform Insignia” which quickly goes from looking like a high priced flea market display to something more powerful and disturbing in its selection of “Hand made” or rather non official patches that expose the jingoistic racial hatreds of large variety of nationalities and are almost joyful in their prided of killing the “other” regardless of who the other is. The least disturbing are the Mercenary patches, they at least are not bogged down with racial depictions, they are paid to kill, who does not enter into it, or at least that is the feeling I get from them.

Both these displays are vaguely interesting for their own value with the Military Insignia having a self revealing power that can’t be ignored, but neither necessarily set the context for the main show of TMC co- founder/ curator Max Allen’s collection of 120 “Afghanistan War Rugs”

“If nothing else, Battleground - the Textile Museum of Canada’s new exhibition of so-called “war rugs” from Afghanistan - proves that self-expression is as vital to survival as food and water. People will always make things of beauty, no matter how awful the world around them.” R.M. VAUGHAN (GLOBE AND MAIL) May 3, 2008





3. War rug with butterfly that symbolizes Russian PFM-1 butterfly land mines, western Afghanistan, late 20th century, 90 x 63 cm, Textile Museum of Canada
4. War rug with helicopter being hit with missile, Afghanistan, late 20th century, Textile Museum of Canada 5.War rug with helicopter, Afghanistan, late 20th century, 88 x 64 cm,
Textile Museum of Canada

 

The exhibition Runs until January 27, 2009. You should see it if you can, it is absorbing and fascinating to speculate on the reasons behind this work. To invest time to really look at these things read about the ongoing research into the production of these rugs and see images visit these websites

Nigel Lendon http://rugsofwar.wordpress.com/

 

http://www.warrug.com/blog/

http://www.academicblogs.org/wiki/index.php/Rugs_of_War

http://oriental-rugs-persian-rugs.blogspot.com/2007/03/afghan-tribal-war-rug-collection.html

  

 


 I can only say this exhibition is very entertaining and in combination with the other exhibitions  a perfect mix. Just visit the TMC and explore. send your comments through the guest (located on side menu) Buy the catalog for Close to You at the gift shop  or online.

 For more information about events, lectures, guided tours happening around these exhibitions visit the Textile Museum of Canada's website http://www.textilemuseum.ca/ 


Close to You: Contemporary Textiles, Intimacy and Popular Culture

June 4 - October 12, 2008

Ai Kijima, Scott Kildall, Allyson Mitchell, Mark Newport and Michèle Provost

Curated By Sarah Quinton

 Erehvon

Ali Kiijima, Erehwon, 2002, fused, machine quilted, recycled materials including bed sheets, curtain, pillow cases, clothes, apron, handkerchief, tablecloth, 111.8 X 162.5 cm
(click on Image for enlarged view)

Close to You examines the use of idioms and images from popular culture in the work of contemporary artists from Canada and the US. Participating artists Ai Kijima, Scott Kildall, Allyson Mitchell, Mark Newport and Michèle Provost explore popular myth, comic book heroics and contemporary social and sexual mores through their material practices of knitting, appliqué, embroidery and crochet. Their evident skill and craftsmanship acknowledges traditional craft values even as their cultural and critical sensibilities position them within contemporary practices. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated cataloge co-produced with Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax.

 

 

its onlt rock and roll

 

Michele Provost "it's Only Rock and Roll" 2005 - 2007 44 framed embroidered textiles  
 
 
Mark Newport
Installation shot of Mark Newport, featuring hand knit super hero out fits Bobble man (pink) 2006, Sweaterman 3 (beige) 2005 acrylic and buttons, 203.2 X 66 X 15.2 cm    
 
alison Mitchelle
Alison Mitchell, Big Tubbs, 2004, fun fur with found shag, 3200 X 231.3 X 91.5 cm  
 

All Images where provided by the Textile museum of Canada and used with permission,

1. War rug showing land mine victims, Afghanistan, late 20th century, 96 x 72 cm, Textile Museum of Canada (note missing limbs)

2.Installation view of Scott Kindall video "Handwork" 2006 with  Ai Kijima 's 2006 quilt "Burn It UP" in background

3. War rug with butterfly that symbolizes Russian PFM-1 butterfly land mines, western Afghanistan, late 20th century, 90 x 63 cm, Textile Museum of Canada

4. War rug with helicopter being hit with missile, Afghanistan, late 20th century, Textile Museum of Canada

5.War rug with helicopter, Afghanistan, late 20th century, 88 x 64 cm,
Textile Museum of Canada

6Ali Kiijima, Erehwon, 2002, fused, machine quilted, recycled materials including bed sheets, curtain, pillow cases, clothes, apron, handkerchief, tablecloth, 111.8 X 162.5 cm

7. Michele Provoust "it's Only Rock and Roll" 2005 - 2007 44 framed embroidered textiles 

8. Installation shot of Mark Newport, featuring on the left side   "Dare devil" 2003 hand knit acrylic and buttons, 203.2 X 66 X 15.2 cm

9. Alison Mitchell, Big Tubbs, 2004, fun fur with found shag, 3200 X 231.3 X 91.5 cm


 For more information about events, lectures, guided tours happening around these exhibitions visit the Textile Museum of Canada's website http://www.textilemuseum.ca/

 
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