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The Text, The Textile and A Dialogue

Yasmin Jahan Nupur’s works titled Threads: Weaving Humanity, can be read as a continuation of her attempts of constantly gauging the relation of the individual and personal, to the larger / generalized or now what can be called as global concerns. Being an artist from Bangladesh, a country which only recently has been able to find entry and make a mark in the global art circuit, Nupur believes that the duty / burden of speaking from the margins is inevitable. Some of her earlier works, visual and performances, address the issues related to environment and politics predominantly from Bangladesh.

For the current residency, Nupur moved from expressing concerns having geographic specificities, to those of understanding human concerns and reactions, which are proximate to all. Thereby, finding the threads that weave people together. The beautiful, dyed fabric, with text embroidered on it, seemed like fragile clouds, floating on the Great Lawns of the Villa Montalvo. The installation invited the viewers to creep beneath it - to ‘read’ the work. Here, the artist brought about a play, through what she calls is a ‘text and textile’ relation.

The lines embroidered on different panels, spoke or asked direct questions, like –

“We are engaged in a war, this war doesn’t for the moment involve men-at-arms, it involves information.”

“Will you forgive those who are polluting the air, water, soil? I will not.”

A text in Bangla, translated as, “Someday we will sing songs together.”

On one hand the artist addressed the fears and trepidations, stripping them off any geographic and historic specificities, and by addressing the urgent, ubiquitous and contemporary issues; and on the other struck a positive note, through a sense of hope. The text to her, helped erase any form of ambiguity, in her attempt of convening a message to the viewers.

Even as the artist aimed at moving beyond borders, she maintains her identity through the material used. The jamdani fabric used in the installation, for the artist represents not just her homeland, but also speaks for the plight of the weavers; a category of skilled individuals working tediously to keep a tradition alive. Having worked closely with the weavers, the fall of their industry at the hands of inexpensive industrial fabrics, makes the artist feel enraged and helpless simultaneously. Therefore, in the current works the artist tried to enact the tedious process, by embroidering the text to speak of both the worlds. One, of the issues people across the globe can immediately relate to; and the other of the problems she witnesses closely, of a small number of people, for whom, the thread stands as their livelihood, profession and identity; which Nupur now uses as a tool / material to set a dialogue.

Photo Credit: Hetal Soni

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