Weaving Geographies focuses on the practice of weaving and its link to nature and community through the works of Guatemalan artist Sylvia Denburg and Colombian artist Monika Bravo.
From a traditional craft process, the creative work of indigenous South American women, transforms itself in a healing process and a symbolic thread that unifies regional communities suffering political conflicts and geographical antagonisms.
Sylvia Denburg’s tapestry is the aesthetic, colourful representation of the aerial view of some Guatemalan highlighted areas, in which ethnic identity and conflict are complexly embedded within a dynamic systems of class- and race-based geopolitics. Denburg’s work explores the psychology of conflicts and liberation on indigenous women and the reflexive praxis of creating meaningful textiles and tapestries, used to challenges these conflicts and their consequences.
Sylvia’s community-based work, with populations most deeply affected by social inequalities and post-traumatic stresses, analyzes how the artistic practice can consist of a response to oppression that foster enhances individual and collective development in a context of social change.
The aim is to create a body of works describing how indigenous women can work from home and become independent of the consequences of having been widowed after the armed conflict in Guatemala. Women, since the colonization of Guatemala have been artisans using the weaving as a form of personal expression. Traditional skirts (cuts), like the huipil, have been covering indigenous women in many regions of Guatemala and have served to distinguish themselves as part of their communities and their geographical environment.
Monika Bravo’s URUMU [WEAVING_TIME] is a video installation that rapidly envelops the viewer in textile. Intermittently, across three walls (the entirety of the viewer’s field of perception), “threads” shoot up and down creating a virtual warp. At the same time and with the same irregular rhythm, weft “threads” move left and right, creating a weave. The resulting graphic “woven” image appears to constitute a text written in an unknown foreign language. As the weaving process continues, the graphic image of the pattern slowly fades into a video that at the end reveals a view of an undetermined location, seemingly devoid of the faces of human beings.
The meaning of the virtual weavings will vary depending on the viewer. For people who grew up outside of Colombia, they might seem like abstract patterns, possibly recalling the graphic motifs of an indigenous South American culture. For Colombians, they will evoke mochilas arhuacas, the Arhuaco bags which are ubiquitous throughout the country and are also popular tourist souvenir. For the Arhuaco (Ika) people who inhabit the Sierra Nevada de santa Marta region, however, the motifs have a very specific meaning, each element symbolizing a fundamental idea about their culture.
In the area in which they live, which they share with the Wiwa and Kogi peoples, as stunning mountain range that forms a distinct geographic border adjacent to the Caribbean Sea, textiles are both practical and symbolically significant. The communities of the Sierra Nevada, despite their tense and tenuous dialogue with the modern world, have been able to preserve their ancient rituals and traditions that rely on other ways of relating to nature.