Cultural Threads

24 November 2018 T/M 12 May 2019


Textiles as a tool for socio-political reflection

We live in a world where boundaries between countries and people are becoming increasingly blurred, power relations are shifting radically and cultures are mixing. The exhibition Cultural Threads presents exceptional pieces by contemporary artists who use textiles as a powerful tool to address a range of socio-political issues. They link textiles to their own search for identity and belonging in a globalising world. Or they use them to unravel histories and outline new future perspectives. Cultural Threads will be on display in the TextielMuseum from 24 November 2018 to 12 May 2019. Featuring work by Eylem Aladogan, Célio Braga, Hana Miletić, Otobong Nkanga, Mary Sibande, Fiona Tan, Jennifer Tee, Aiko Tezuka and Vincent Vulsma.


Mary Sibande, Caught in the Rapture (2009), © Image courtesy of Gallery MOMO.

New collection pieces

The TextielMuseum commissioned four artists to make new work in the TextielLab for the museum collection. The exhibition provides insight into the artists’ research and creative process through films, sketches, samples and sources of inspiration.

Eylem Aladogan immersed herself in the textile industry of the Ottoman Empire. Her interest in the period was motivated by the current political climate in Turkey, where President Erdogan has promoted the glorification of the country’s Ottoman heritage. In her two wall hangings, Aladogan incorporated floral motifs from Ottoman textile art, thereby reflecting on the relationship between the beauty of ornament and political power. At the same time, her work is a reflection of her relationship with her father, who came to the Netherlands from Turkey as a labour migrant. The conversations they had about democracy, freedom and nationalism played an important role in shaping her political consciousness. The wall hangings are tangible testimony to this dialogue between two generations.

Process of creating Red Thread in the TextielLab, Eylem Aladogan. Photo: Josefina Eikenaar

Célio Braga installation ‘Memory Unsettled’ explores the vulnerability of human existence. Braga often uses traditional techniques such as embroidery, sewing, darning and perforating to depict this vulnerability. For this piece, he collected fabrics from around the world: from the Netherlands and France to Portugal, Indonesia and Brazil. ‘Memory Unsettled’ connects personal memories, symbolism and rituals from different cultures and periods to represent the emotional reality of life, death, transience and love.


Memory Unsettled, Celio Braga. Photo: Josefina Eikenaar

Jennifer Tee has spent the last few years researching palepai and tampan textiles from South Sumatra, Indonesia. Tee is fascinated by the cloths, which embody cultural exchange and a long trade history. The textiles are no longer produced. However, examples can be found in several museum collections in the Netherlands, brought back by Dutch colonisers. Tee developed six woven and embroidered wall hangings inspired by these textiles for the TextielMuseum. The motif incorporates a ship that symbolises the journey of life, transition and an unknown future. The motif has particular significance for Tee: her father migrated from Indonesia to the Netherlands.

Detail Tampan Tree of Life, Jennifer Tee. Photo: Josefina Eikenaar

Vincent Vulsma developed an installation consisting of three series: ‘Guinea’, ‘Return’ and ‘Voyage’. The works are based on research of the transatlantic slave trade and the role that goods such as textiles and indigo played in this trade. Specifically, Vulsma examines the logistical mechanism behind this trade. Based on the financial accounts of the Middelburg Commerce Company held in the Zeeuws Archive, Vulsma translated information from the logbooks of 18th-century Dutch slave ships into sculptures and woven and laser-cut fabrics.

Titel: Return25° 40’ 0.0012’’ N 75°13’ 0.0012’’ W [11071759]26° 43’ 59.9988” N 75° 1’ 0.0012’’ W [12071759]27° 34’ 59.9988’’ N 75° 17’ 60” W [13071759], Vincent Vulsma. Photo: Josefina Eikenaar
Proces in the TextielLab, Vincent Vulsma. Photo: Josefina Eikenaar

Alongside the new collection pieces, Cultural Threads features international artists whose work explores similar themes: Hana Miletić, Otobong Nkanga, Aiko Tezuka and Mary Sibande.

A Reversed Retrogress, Scene 1 (2013), Mary Sibande. Foto:  © Image courtesy of Gallery MOMO

Audiotour ‘Akwasi in je oor’

Learn all about the personal favourites of storyteller and creative chameleon Akwasi in the special audio tour he made for Cultural Threads. Combining poetry and political statements with emotion and cultural references, he shares his views of a selection of the works and the feelings and thoughts they evoke. The audiotour is only available in Dutch.

Kunstkameraden YOU! @Textielmuseum

KunstKameraden YOU! has invited 25 creative newcomers and 5 established artists from the Tilburg area to help create new works. Expressing the young artists’ own experience of cultural interweaving, the works will be exhibited alongside Cultural Threads on the TextielMuseum’s Panorama deck. The TextielMuseum, along with its vibrant TextielLab and a calendar of exceptional exhibitions, is an inspiring place for KunstKameraden YOU! artists to immerse themselves in a range of creative ideas and outlets: from art and design to fashion and popular culture.

KunstKameraden was established by De Cultuurkantine. In the past ten years, it has matched 350 young creatives with local artists, resulting in fertile collaborations and impressive works. The TextielMuseum is delighted to showcase this special initiative.


The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated publication of the same name (published by the TextielMuseum, written by Jessica Hemmings, Caroline Boot, Liza Swaving and Christel Vesters). The theme of the exhibition is partly inspired by the book Cultural Threads. Transnational Textiles Today (Bloomsbury, 2015) by Professor Jessica Hemmings. For this new publication, Hemmings contributed an original essay about the works in the exhibition, underlining the role that artists and designers play in the representation of global history, identity and cultural interweaving.


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