an international tapestry installation
by Line Dufour
Canada is a country woven together and constructed by many cultures and people of many countries, to form one cohesive fabric, where we welcome and respect our differences and diversity. Threaded together by social media, individuals are woven into a community fabric through this one shared activity, a permanent reminder of our shared history, cultural practices and multicultural origins.—LD
Social media was constructed to allow the creation and exchange of user generated content. It provides a highly interactive platform through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify. Not only has it precipitated substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities, and individuals but it has profoundly impacted our practice as tapestry weavers and artists. Social media has connected us together virtually, has diminished our sense of isolation endemic in our practice and has been instrumental in my being able to connect to other tapestry artists all over the world. This has transformed my work, my growth and development from a solitary practice, to a collaborative and community building one. Consequently, I was able to launch the Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination/Le Sort, Destin et l’Auto-determination, an internationaltapestry installation project, which could not have been as successful without it and in a sense was formed by it. Real connection with others, however, comes in the physicality of doing, in
materiality, in actions, interactions, processes and events shared by an assortment of individuals and groups. Weaving is an appropriate metaphor for engagement and activity with others. Both can be described as a means of producing a coherent united whole or collaboration through the combining and interlacement of various elements. Tapestry weaving is a slow, labourious and manual practice, a contrast to the speed at which social media weaves word threads of connection to others.
Weaving is an activity where one exercises a fair amount of control and in my attempt to mirror life, I wanted to give over some of that control to others. I also invited the elements of risk, chance and uncertainty into this work in several ways: by not being sure tapestry weavers would even want to participate; by having others contribute in an expressive, authentic and creative way; by deliberately having unwoven areas in the larger tapestry panels, without knowing how I would resolve it technically; by not knowing if the installation would ever be exhibited and if necessary, where would I find resources to pay for any expenses related to it. I learned from contributors from how they resolved the technical challenges that presented themselves in weaving irregular shapes, so in this way, many aspects of the installation were left to chance—fate and destiny. In the past, my tapestry weaving has been a solitary practice, as it is for many contemporary tap-estry weavers. Much as I cherish that, it is also isolating. Having others weave a tapestry references historical periods and tradition-al practice where artist and weaver were/are separate roles.
Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination/Le Sort, Destin et l’Auto-determination was generously funded by the Ontario Arts Council and is a tapestry installation composed of three sections. The first panel measures 5’ x 3’ and exemplifies the contemporary practice of tapestry weaving, where artist and weaver are one and the same. It is woven entirely by myself in my studio. The second panel, measuring 5’ x 18” and was woven on the Gobelin loom at the Toronto Weaving School. Participants ranged from the inexperienced and amateur to the professional. Having others contribute to the weaving of the tapestry makes reference to traditional tapestry practice and historical conventions in that many weavers worked on the tapestry at the same time or at various stages and that weavers, often, did not create the tapestry design. As many of you know this still happens in well known tapestry making enterprises. I documented those who wove this section both in pictures and video and as the project progressed, I kept participants updated via Facebook and emails.
The final section is composed of irregular shapes positioned betweenthe 2 main panels, floating freely in space, as though the tapestry is pulling apart or coming together, like two tectonic plates. Propelled by social media, it’s function parallels the creation and exchange of user generated content. As each shape arrives at my home, I photograph each one and post it to the Facebook page for the project. As of this posting (27/2/17), 350 completed shapes have been received from 28 countries, and a total of about 250 people have participated in the entire project. to view an up-to-date list, visit http://www.linedufour.com/fate-destiny-self-determination These numbers are climbing daily. The project continues to accept woven shapes and will do so indefinitely, building community and growing steadily. If you or anyone you know would like to participate by weaving a shape, please contact Line Dufour via email, firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the facebook page of the same title—
https://www.facebook.com/Fate-Destiny-and-Self-Determination-An-international-tapestry-project-194385150700425/ I will send you a shape or as many shapes as you like as well as the information sheet. With each ensuing exhibition of the installation, each contributor’s name is included as being a co-creator. Each person’s contribution is also featured on the Facebook page of the project, and any information you would like me to include about you, your work and/or your thoughts on the installation, are posted.
Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination/ le sort, le destin et l’auto-determination, has already had several exhibitions and several more are scheduled. It has been exhibited at Craft Ontario in Toronto (Canada), Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, Regis University in Denver Colorado USA. the Craft Council of British Colombia , and the American Tapestry Biennial 11 at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, California, USA. Upcoming exhibitions are scheduled for the Art Gallery of Burlington, Burlington, Ontario, Canada and the Tuch + Technik Textil Museum, Neumünster, Germany.
Line Dufour has been building weaving community for the last 25 years through her teaching of weaving at the Toronto Weaving School as well as through community art and weaving projects. You can learn more about her work at http://www.linedufour.com/ or go to the Facebook page for the project of the same title — https://www.facebook.com/Fate-Destiny-and-Self-Determination-An-international-tapestry-project-194385150700425/ If people want to make a donation to the project to assist in the paying for shipping and insurance of the project, they can go to this site: https://www.gofundme.com/b6qq4qwk
First published in Tapestry Topics; ATA’s Quarterly Online Newsletter, Spring 2016, vol 42 no 1.