Documentary Embroidery is an exhibition and workshop facilitated by Aviv Kruglanski and Vahida Ramujkic. The project has already visited several cities such as Cairo, Bristol and the Bon Pastor neighborhood of Barcelona. Using needle and thread, the participants show us various scenes and situations at the moment they take place. This is embroidery live, embroidery-on-the-spot, real-time embroidery. We could also call it street embroidery, unique in the fact that representation, work process and the reality behind them can be observed simultaneously.
This experiment, both social and artistic, fulfills many functions: the artistic depiction of the subjects observed, documentary immediacy in the delivery of impressions, the exchange of ideas through verbal communication as the work takes place, the possible use application of the piece of cloth on which the picture has been embroidered and the educational process created by the constant inclusion of new people.
Each of these functions raises interesting theoretical questions:
Are the participants working for themselves, for each other or for the audience?
Is the emphasis on objective documentary testimony or on their own subjective interpretation?
Does the embroidery generate the communication taking place between them, or does the communication generate the embroidery?
Is embroidery only the decoration on a garment, or is the person wearing it a moving presentation of the work of its creator?
Are the people behind the experiment art teachers training new creators, are both sides educating each other, or is it the audience who is learning something new?
We could conclude that a project of supposedly such postmodern eclecticism, installational voluminosity and conceptual enigma, allows for multiple possibilities of interpretation. But we must not forget what it is based on - hand embroidery. The enigmatic stitched code, the mystical nature of this old-fashioned craft opens up a whole new field of creative possibilities. In that sense it reminds us of the ones made available through contemporary digital technology.
But the speed of information does not always depend on electronics. On the contrary, here communication spreads at the speed of its manufacture, increasing the number of participants, changing form in the process, being transformed by the participation of observers.
This all-embracing communication-via-embroidery may be considered, then, from different aspects: as a testimony of the moment, a chronicle of events, a reflection of nature… It may evince static or traveling research. It may be in search of realistic or virtual solutions. The product may be interpreted as individual and as teamwork. Within the teams, embroideries are linked or follow one another in a collage form, which may be narrative or abstract. This kind of system may serve as play, as decoration, presentation, sharing or socializing.
Documentary Embroidery has no set principles or tasks; it rather opens the gate to a new space, one that we shape according to our own inspiration. This is a world of open code in which a needle = one, thread = zero, cotton = hardware, the instigator = programmer, a stitch = a link, and the audience = the software.
Chain stitch, anyone?