Sean Kelly is delighted to present Ravelled Threads, a thematic exhibition of recent work by ten artists from Africa who utilize fabric to create textiles, weavings, embroidery, performances and installations. These disparate artists are united in their backgrounds, both living and working throughout Africa. Each artist is distinguished by the diverse and complex relationships that run through their varied geographical, political, and gendered narratives. Ravelled Threads is organized in collaboration with Mariane Ibrahim. The exhibition will open Thursday, June 21 from 6-8pm. A number of the artists will be present for the opening.
Perhaps more so than in any other place in the world, cloth in Africa plays a critical role as signifier, storyteller, and recorder of history. It infuses distinct traditions across the continent, reflecting personal, political and social concerns, serving simultaneously as functional and artistic material. The works included in Ravelled Threads dispense entirely with functionality, positioning these traditional methodologies firmly in the realm of artistic expression. The varied compositions these artists realize may express socio-political resistance, address issues of assimilation and family lineage, ponder issues of cultural and sexual identity, or explore myth.
One of the principle issues explored in Ravelled Threads is how artists use material to denounce post-colonial agency and attempt to unravel homogeneous conceptions of what African patterns look like, since much of that conforms to an imperialist aesthetic predominately conceived and marketed in Europe. These artists challenge popular ideas that there is a unitary “Africa” in terms of visual, intellectual and sartorial forms of expression, using fabric to reflect new aesthetics and the complex modalities of expression encountered in the richly-varied and complex communities that comprise present-day African cultures.
Ravelled Threads features a diverse roster of emerging, mid-career and established artists including Igshaan Adams, Joël Andrianomearisoa, Ayan Farah, Aboubakar Fofana, Alexandra Karakashian, Abdoulaye Konaté, Lawrence Lemaoana, Senzeni Marasela, Zohra Opoku and Athi-Patra Ruga.
Join the conversation on social media: #RavelledThreads #SeanKellyNY