Reconfigurations: Textile as Textuality


Reconfigurations: Textile as Textuality
brings together and places in dialogue a selection of the work of four artists — Sandra Contreras, Irma Sofía Poeter, Ornella Ridone, and Yohanna M. Roa — who through textile art reconfigure the relationships between artistic genres and artistic and social hierarchies.

Both the artistic production of the last century and the art historical reflections based on gender studies have spawned diverse initiatives that highlight and revalue the role of knitting, embroidery, and textiles in artistic creation, as well as reflections on the ways in which these media contribute distinctive work processes and modes of signification to the disciplines of art and art history.

The time-based and corporeal processes related to these modes of production are key elements that establish links with historical and cultural antecedents, and they also produce transformations in the realm of affect and meaning that suggest distinct models of social coexistence and interaction. In addition, these aesthetic actions frequently break with conventional horizons of expectation regarding issues such as: the hierarchical relationship between art and craft; the uses and/or combinations of artistic media and artistic genres; habitual markers for gender, class and ethnicity, and models of political art.

The work of Sandra Contreras, a Mexican artist working between Berlin and Mexico, establishes a distinctive corporeal dialogue with the norms of science and rationalist philosophy, and their legacy in books and diagrams. Using textile supports in various formats, and embroidery, sometimes combined with other techniques, it suggests an integration of body, nature, and the cosmos, as principles that challenge the possibilities of a pure geometry.

Irma Sofía Poeter, a binational Mexican-U.S. artist who resides in Tecate, has a long history of working with textile materials, in two-dimensional and three-dimensional formats, as well as in installations and performance. Her early work transforms and resignifies garments and everyday items such as quilts to comment on social violence through allusions to the female body. Likewise, her more recent pieces integrate textile elements from different cultural and geographical origins into new configurations, to refer to migration, hybrid identities, and the persistence of symbolic elements linked to different landscapes, historical moments, and spiritual traditions.

The work of Ornella Ridone, an artist of Italian origin living in Oaxaca, uses embroidery and drawing as vehicles for inscribing affections onto fabrics of various origins. With used clothes, discarded blankets and silk canvases, among other materials, she produces objects, multimedia installations and performative actions that--through their subtle handling of color, texture, gesture, and space--allude to the precarious and vulnerable condition of human bodies, as well as their complex identities and the persistence of individual and collective memory. Her work invites reflection on cultures of care and interdependence, that are placed in counterpoint with social violence in both past and present contexts.

Yohanna M. Roa, a Colombian artist residing in Mexico City and New York, brings into play a family tradition of sewing as well as her training in art history, restoration, and gender studies, to present a critique of art history from a feminist and decolonial perspective. She takes apart books that contain canonical images of art and recombines their leaves in new iconographic configurations that are linked to daily life as experienced from the vantage point of the female body. And she intervenes these creations with embroidery, crochet, collage, and painting to subvert the hierarchies of chronology, gender, style, and geography that are prevalent in hegemonic narratives and definitions of art, thus inviting new readings and ways of experiencing cultural and corporeal memory.

Together and in dialogue with one another, the work of these four contemporary artists demonstrates the vitality and the visual and conceptual richness of current creative production in the textile medium. Their pieces generate a multisensory textuality that allows us to link various levels of experience, and--through manual processes that refer insistently to the body--introduces a critical perspective that allows us to imagine new modes and models of interrelation with ourselves, with one another and with our environment.

Karen Cordero Reiman


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Sandra Contreras

Mexican artist who since 2001 has lived and worked between Berlin and Mexico City. She completed a B.A. in Art History and an M.A. in Art Studies at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and an M.A. in Art in Context in Berlin. Her artistic practice is situated in the emerging field of contemporary textile work, a territory that intersects with the practice of painting, drawing and installation. She has presented more than thirteen individual exhibitions and artistic actions in Germany, Mexico, and Greece, as well as multiple group exhibitions. Likewise, for twenty years she has been conducting artistic mediation activities and giving workshops on this subject in museums, schools and communities in Mexico and Germany.

Irma Sofía Poeter

Binational Mexican-U.S. multidisciplinary artist who currently resides in Tecate. She studied art and design in the United States and Mexico, and has had artistic residencies in Mexico and Italy. She is also a founding member of the Martes (Women in the Arts) Group in Tijuana. Poeter has exhibited in Mexico, the United States, England, Poland, and Cuba, among others, and has participated in the Biennial of Banners in Tijuana, the XII Bancomer Art Salon in Mexico City and the Seventh Biennial of Havana, Cuba. She began her career as a painter and later ventured into sculpture and installation. Her practice involves fabrics and textiles in all their forms, including canvases, clothing, embroidery, and weaving, and she sometimes incorporates painting and photography as well. Immersed in the poetics of the textile medium, she explores and exploits its colors, textures, and shapes, as well as its social, historical, and geographical references. Through the dyeing, decomposition, embroidery, and reconfiguration of textile materials, Poeter accentuates the imprints of trauma that evoke individual and collective memories, addressing issues of identity, memory, gender, energy, and spirituality.

Ornella Ridone

Artist of Italian origin who moved to Mexico in the 1980s, and currently lives and works in the city of Oaxaca. She is self-taught and her artistic career has focused on textile art, particularly embroidery, which she develops both in two-dimensional works and through installations, experimenting with the use of different supports, materials, and techniques. Ridone has exhibited in Mexico, Italy, Poland, China, England, and the United States, among others. She received an honorable mention in the third edition of the FEMSA Monterrey Biennial; her work was selected in the XI edition of the Rufino Tamayo Biennial in Mexico City; and she was a guest of honor at the 6th edition of WTA, the International Textile Biennial. Ridone recently participated in the Matria Jardín project, in which she combined artistic creation with the cultivation of urban gardens and other cultural activities in Oaxaca.

Yohanna M. Roa

Transdisciplinary artist and Colombian-U.S. art historian, who lives between New York and Mexico City. She has a degree in Fine Arts from the Institute of Fine Arts in Cali, Colombia and she completed an M.A. in Visual Arts at the UNAM in Mexico. She is currently a candidate for the Ph.D. in History and Critical Theory of Art at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and is pursuing an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York. Her artistic practice focuses on the uses of memory, the archive, and the historical materiality of objects, through two-dimensional and three-dimensional works, installations, and process based and social practice pieces. Roa has had artistic residencies in New York and Mexico City, and numerous solo and group exhibitions in Mexico, the United States, Colombia, Germany, and Cuba, among others.