From the 3rd until the 5th of September, Contextile 2022 Re-make opening days filled the city of Guimarães with cultural events. The Biennial and its exciting fringe programme will continue until the 30th of October 2022. In its 10th year and 6th edition, Contextile Contemporary Art Biennial is back in Guimarães to celebrate its long-lasting relationship with the Portuguese city.
Contextile is the most successful event generated by the 2012 European Capital of Culture dynamics. Every two years, the event’s projects and visions, through contemporary textile art, open up new spaces for questioning and reinterpreting Guimarães, invading its everyday life. “Art must and can fulfill its political role and ability to question reality and, with that, to question ourselves”.
“Contextile is a city whose streets and avenues are filled with what might disquiet us. A Barrio C or a Contextile neighbourhood that uses the symbology of everyday life, reinterpreting it and promoting a path of innovation and constant unrest”.
This year’s Biennale brings us back to confront the recent historical worldwide events with a critical attitude and the will to Re-Make, proposing a reflection from the context of the textile Culture.
“The title is a constructed and polysemic term resulting from the “space in between”, the action and the reaction”.
This evolving process toward new world visions requires critical thinking and finds its substance in the inherent properties of textile matter to cross boundaries of time, thought and place.
It leads us to “operate in the prefix, in the origin, in the cause, in the creation, in the construction, in the connection, in the transformation”.
Textiles and art are presented as “action and reaction to time and space, in response to the political and social conditions, as alchemical body, reacting to stimuli, such as fiction or fantasised reality, and new imaginaries, as an experimental medium attentive to the new ecologies of production, as a questioner of borders and limits or their nonexistence.”
The complexity of this year’s vision unravels over an extended programme. Alongside the International juried exhibition are the shows displaying the results of the residency programs, the Invited country’s pavilion, the exhibitions presenting the collaboration with academies and Art schools, and the exciting site-specific projects of the invited artist Ibrahim Mahama. Moreover, this year, the event’s cultural calendar is enriched with an anthological show bringing together ten outstanding artists in the history of Portuguese textile Art over the last 60 years. Collateral projects are the exhibition IMAGINE! and Peninsulares, curated by Lala de Dios. Finally, a cycle of workshops and Textile conferences extending until the end of October tops the agenda.
ArteMorbida, as Contextile 2022 media partner, has published a must-read interview with the event’s artistic director Cláudia Melo and with artist Tina Marais Struthers. Soon to come on our website will be an in-depth article on the invited country exhibition: Norway. Last but not least, in our January quarterly issue, you’ll read a report based on the interview that Ibrahim Mahama has given us.
In this article, you’ll find the voices of some selected artists we’ve personally interviewed during the opening days.
Since its first edition, the juried International exhibition, hosted at PALÁCIO VILA FLOR – CCVF is a pivotal point of the Biennial, has seen a significant increase in applications worldwide, confirming the event’s reach. This year 1250 creators applied with 1505 artworks (indoor and outdoor site-specific), from which the jury had the difficult task of selecting 56 produced by 52 artists from 34 countries.
The jury’s members: Lala de Dios (Art history professor and textile curator), Janis Jefferies (writer, curator and artist, emeritus professor of visual art), Monika Grašienė (artist, curator and Professor of Textile art), Orenzio Santi (Textile artist and professor), and Cláudia Melo (Con Textile Art Director); awarded four special mentions: Iper-Collettivo (Italy), Estefania Tarud (Chile), Arja Kärkkäinen (Finland), Vania Sommermeyer (Brasil)) and the winner of the acquisition price Leïla Pile – Belgium.
Iper-Colletivo from Prato, Italy, presented a patterned installation made out of plastic recycled spools titled: Plastic Textile. The multidisciplinary collective’s work based on site-specific projects is influenced by their experimental design background and aims to involve the local communities and viewers in active interaction and discovery. In Guimarães, building on existing research on surface design, the group was inspired by the azulejos, thus combining traditional decoration, textile and pixel art aesthetics. Repurposed plastic spools are assembled to form a device designed to temporarily intervene within the urban space through easy-to-find and playable elements to stimulate people’s imaginations, allowing new spatial functions to emerge.
Estefania Tarud from Chile in the Flashlight series presents pitch black embroidered textiles where a spotlight intrudes into her intimate life. She focuses on everyday life scenarios and shared experiences that can be considered universal. The light plays a central role in expressing serenity and a sense of domesticity. The measure of light, its speed, is deliberately rendered by contrast through the languid gestures of embroidery. Estefania’s images can be experienced from both sides, depicting a clear and detailed scene on the front and more abstract imagery on the rear.
Leïla Pile from Belgium, with her work Graduated ribbon, won the acquisition prize. The installation combines six woven ribbons (one of 13300×4,5 cm and five of 1400×4.5 cm) and drawings and revolves around the themes of space and the act of walking.
Back in time, the basic unit of measure was human steps. The act of walking allows the artist to experience a specific space (Les Anciens Abattoirs de Mons, a Contemporary Art Centre in Mons, Belgium) and recognise it. The ribbons, produced in collaboration with Musée de la rubanerie cominoise, are made out of Belgian linen and wool yarns on a mechanical loom with a rhythm of 10 meters per day.
The design is based on a three colours protocol where each of the artist’s steps is marked with a red woven stripe, overlaid on the ecru background.
The total length of the ribbon is the entire length of the space. So, a whole building becomes portable when the ribbon is rolled up.
10 ARTISTS – TEXTILE IN PORTUGUESE ART, curated by Contextile artistic director Cláudia Melo, is on display at CIAJG – Centro Internacional das Artes José de Guimarães. The exhibition is based on the idea of “time – reaction time”. It gathers artworks by 10 Portuguese artists, mainly active in the 1960s and 70s (when a greater interest in textile art emerged in Portugal); although not definable as textile artists, they have included textiles technique, materials or thought-process in their practices.
The Artists Ana Vieira, António Barros, Eduardo Nery, Gisella Santi, Joana Vasconcelos, João Pedro Vale & Nuno Alexandre Ferreira, José de Guimarães, Leonor Antunes, Lourdes Castro and Margarida Reis; are from different generations and the exhibition present a cross-over intergenerational dialogue for a “construction of the new, in relation”.
Starting from Gisella Santi, who, in the sixties, translated the tradition of tapestry weaving from the experienced point of view of a restorer into sculptural forms; the exhibition reaches the more recent works of João Pedro Vale & Nuno Alexandre Ferreira. The artist duo exhibits P-Town (The Sign) from 2011 and Homophobia is not cute from 2015.
P-Town by João Pedro Vale & Nuno Alexandre Ferreira features black slogans on white towels. The project developed in Massachusetts, USA, during an artistic residence in 2011. Reacting to the numerous souvenir shops in the city centre’s streets where towels and t-shirts are sold, the artists recall an episode that occurred in 1989, in the middle of the AIDS pandemic, when one of the ACT UP members paraded with a sign that read, “legalise butt fucking”. This act, meant to raise awareness, became known as “The sign”.
Renowned Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama is Contextile 2022 invited artist. On display are two impressive interventions in indoor (Idegui – Instituto de design) and outdoor (Muralha de Guimarães) public spaces: produced with the Contextile technical team and communities.
Ibrahim Mahama uses the transformation of materials to explore themes such as commodities and primary goods, trade, migration, globalisation and economic exchanges.
At the Museu de Alberto Sampaio, Palacete de Santiago, and Museu Martins Sarmento, this year’s invited country: Norway, presents works by 13 artists. Ingunn Bakke, Siri Berqvam, Linn Rebekka Åmo, Sidsel Palmstrøm, Cato Løland, Åse Ljones, Tore Magne Gundersen, Anne Knutsen og Karen Kviltu Lidal, Karin Aurora Lindell, Malin Bülow, Åsne Kummeneje Mellem og Liilian Saksi were selected by the association of the Norwegian textile artists to exhibit. Soon to be released on ArteMorbida online, a focus on the exciting show with the voices of curator Malfridur Adalsteinsdottir and the artists: Sidsel Palmstrøm, Siri Berqvam, Ingunn Bakke e Linn Rebekka Åmo.
At the Santo Antonio dos Capuchos Convent, nine artists settled in over the last few months to experience the textile culture and life in Guimarães. The Artists in Residence from seven countries have been selected through an open call (Jiaxi Li, Johanna Stella Rogalla, Lars Preisser, Paloma de la Cruz). In addition, Contextile’s partner institutions, the Biennale Internationale du Lin de Portneuf (Canada) and the international platform MAGIC CARPETS selected Julie Bénédicte Lambert and Tina Struthers and Adelina Ivan, Indrė Spitrytė and Pedro Bastos respectively.
Selected by the open call is, for example, Lars Preisser‘s project. Growing up in a family producing industrial looms, he investigates the construction of a new weaving tool capable of rethinking today’s textile production.
His work Unweaving the machine, 2022, presents an interactive loom designed to unravel a fabric instead of actually weaving it. As opposed to the speed of the industrial process, the time it takes to unweave is positioned as a critical action concerning the dynamics and errors of industrial textile production. Next to the experimental loom, we find printed fabrics, studies and detailed technical drawings of the devices.
The partnership, started in 2016 with the Biennale Internationale du Lin de Portneuf, is consolidated with the presence of two artists in residence: Julie Bénédicte Lambert and Tina Struthers.
The ancient local craft tradition inspires Julie Bénédicte Lambert’s elegant woven sculpture made of braided rye straw. Her works speak of the long process behind traditional crafts: the work of the artisans, the plant, the harvesting, the seasons, the history, and the sense of pride. “These interwoven stems are, for me, a metaphor of the body, in turn so resistant and so ephemeral. Learning to re-make a gesture alongside another, diverting the object from its function, thereby investing into the conversation between the body and the assembled straw braids”.
 Contextile Catalog
The European platform Magic Carpets selected Adelina Ivan, Indrė Spitrytė, and Pedro Bastos.
Working with the local Santa Casa de Misericordia community, Indrė Spitrytė gives new life to old materials embracing its “history, craft and imperfections.”
Old textiles from the local communities are dyed with red beans and tea leaves and shaped using plant-based bioplastics recipes. Through a series of workshops based on different braiding techniques with industrial leftovers worked upon by local people, the artist produced a collaborative installation.
EMERGÊNCIAS Artistic Education and Textile Creation is a project that challenges artistic schools with textiles in their curricula to intervene in the public spaces and presents works by FBAUP, FBAUL, EAAD-UM, Soares dos Reis e António Arroio. You’ll find the exhibitions at CIÊNCIA VIVA, CENTRO ONU, GARAGEM AVENIDA, and EAAD-UM.
Over two days, from the 4th to the 5th of September, the Textile Talks at the AUDITÓRIO CCVF fostered dialogue among artists and professionals to promote a network between different actors and institutions.
Alongside the main program, two satellite projects expand the reach of the Biennial outside Portugal and open up to other European countries.
Peninsulares, curated by Lala de Dios, brings together the work of Rosa Godinho on the Portuguese side and Aurèlia Muñoz on the Spanish side. Two artists with a long career and widely recognised in the context of contemporary Iberian and international textile art. Using ancestral textile techniques, knots and woven tapestries, these works expand the traditional scope of sculpture.
The project IMAGINE! – Crossed Season – Guimarães / Clermont-Ferrand 2022 is the result of a partnership between Contextile and FITE – Festival International des Textiles Extraordinaires.
IMAGINE! gathers the artworks of 10 French artists: Arnaud Cohen, Cecile Ndiaye, Garance Alves, Joël Andrianomearisoa, Lucile Drouet, Majida Khattari, Pascal Monteil, Rieko Koga, Romeo Mivekannin, Sabine Cibert; in dialogue with the Palace of the Dukes’ stunning historical furnishings, tapestries and works of art.
Arnaud Cohen presents two tapestries of the series “Winter over Europe”. These 18th-century tapestries represent bucolic scenes over which the artist has intervened by contemporary embroidery or by inserting modern imagery. The flames symbolise the destruction of our ecosystem and the growing desire of individuals and human groups to separate from each other.
Through this series, Cohen tells us about a world going up in flames while Western elites refuse to take a measure of the danger, pretending that everything is fine and refusing to question themselves.
Joël Andrianomearisoa, born in 1977 in Antananarivo, Madagascar, is an artist living and working between Paris, Magnat-l’Étrange and Antananarivo.
He presents the work “Fauna Flora Tormenta Perfecta”, Paris, Guimarães, 2022.
A linen and cotton jacquard woven tablecloth resulting from a residency program in collaboration with the Sampedro Company specialized in home textiles. They created an infinite table cloth designed to dialogue and gather the castle’s spirits around an imaginary meal. A long continuous line that runs all across the tablecloth represents the gestures and movements of the invisible diners.
This mirrored programme features another exhibition of Portuguese artists at the Musée d’Art Roger Quilliot in Clermont-Ferrand, opening in September.
During September and until October 30th, Contextile will carry on with its rich program not to be missed.
Keep an eye on the ArteMorbida website to find out more about insights brought to you by our editorial team in the coming weeks