Gathering + Mending the Museum
Posted: Aug 1st, 2023 | Gathering

As part of the digital component of Gathering, the Textile Museum partnered with the collective Mending the Museum. The digital works created through this partnership can be viewed below.

Mending the Museum is a collaborative duo comprised of Karina Román Justo, visual arts scholar and educator, and Camila Salcedo, interdisciplinary visual artist and educator. Their intent is to work as a bridge between artists, communities, regional museums, and craft objects from their collections, to reflect on ancestry and speculative futures within the framework of cultural belonging.

They are both emerging Latinx curators based in Canada, with an interest in museum practices and pedagogical approaches in art spaces. They worked together previously through Sur Gallery’s Mentorship Program in 2019-2020, and have since come together to establish the basis of this collaborative relationship. Together, they took part in Subtle Technology’s Curatorial Mentorship in 2022.

Mending the Museum invited six artists, namely, Shaheer Zazai, Khadija Aziz, denirée isabel, Lan Florence Yee, Paola Torres Nuñez del Prado and kaya joan, to interpret pieces from the Textile Museum’s collection. Giving them access to the vaults, the artists responded to the concept of “fragments” – whether literal pieces of textiles, such as disheveled tapestries, or conceptual interpretations of fragmented information, realities, histories, and stories. 
Responding to informational gaps in the archives, some recurring themes explored by the artists are speculative stories through the voices of the objects, human-plant relations, piecing textiles together through interactive games, and deconstructing nationalist imagery, while reflecting the affective connection each of them developed with their chosen object. 
Lan Florence Yee’s speculative video work is narrated by an ornamental sleeve band that was collected by the Textile Museum’s white founder in his travels to China. Similarly, kaya joan’s speculative voice of the indigo plant responds to a floral-patterned textile fragment, bringing Indigenous knowledge of plants as knowledge-keepers, intersecting with Artificial Intelligence. denirée isabel explores the connections between plant-based textile materials and the land where she and the trees come from, using the interface of popular ancestry DNA tests. Khadija Aziz created a set of puzzles with detailed photographs of Kashmiri shawls, inviting the viewer to piece together information about their making processes. Shaheer Zazai subverts the plethora of Afghan war rugs from the Textile Museum collection, isolating war imagery, leaving behind gardens and plant life that follow the oldest traditions of rug-making. Lastly, Paola Torrez Nuñez del Prado, created an audio work using an interface to create sound with a Peruvian sling, speaking to current political uprisings in her home country. The second major aspect of the project will be a series of artist-led workshops geared towards youth and children from October 2023 to April 2024.