front gallery: anna dunnill (Vic) - a kind of collective breathing
Opening July 4th
Exhibition running 4th - 21st July
In this exhibition, textiles are used as a language of queer connection and spiritual becoming.The major work in the show is a wall-based installation composed of dozens of coloured strings. Each is roughly 165cm long (the height of the artist) and made up of numerous sub-parts: plaited, twisted, knotted, beaded and adorned. Materials include embroidery floss, metallic thread, wool, cotton, human hair, seed beads, wooden beads, freshwater pearls, glazed stoneware beads.The threads will be installed 10cm apart (each hanging from a single pin) along a 7 metre span, almost the full length of the gallery wall. Some are weighted by handmade ceramic beads, others hang like scribbled lines. In a breeze, or with movement, they shift slightly, like breath.There is a lot of space in this work, and intricate small details. Stepping back, though, it becomes monumental - reminiscent of a deconstructed banner or flag.Accompanying this work will be a poetic text piece, presented on a stack of printed paper to be taken away.
Throughout the exhibition period there will be a recurring performance ritual in which the text piece is spoken aloud while audience members select strings to take off the wall, adorning themselves and others before replacing them in a new order. The text will point towards the key concerns in my research: queerness, religious ritual, and community.A key artistic reference is Cecilia Vicuña, whose string-based installations reference the weaving of her Chilean heritage - especially quipu, a means of recording information through knotted string in pre-colonial South America. Vicuña’s small-scale ephemeral installations, or precarios, derive their name from the etymological origin of ‘precarious’: something requested through prayer.The beaded and textured strings reference both adornment and religious ritual; the word ‘bead’ derives from Old English bede, meaning ‘prayer’, and the installation is suggestive of a large-scale altar-piece, detailed and richly embroidered. The work also recalls the familiar practice of making friendship bracelets from embroidery thread, which are traditionally connected to wishing. Wishes, prayers, messages in thread; a kind of collective breathing.