Weaving strands of international fiber art

Wu Huixin
The Third Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art brings together a wide range of multidimensional works, including installations, video pieces and costumes.
Wu Huixin

The Third Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art, underway at Zhejiang Art Museum, shows visitors the broad possibilities of textile art, with 78 pieces by 40 artists from 18 countries, including Japan, Mexico, Argentina, Netherlands and Denmark.

One highlight of the exhibition is the installation artwork by Chiharu Shiota from Japan. The whole lobby is covered with red threads which are twisted and twined together and connected with white paper.

The work is inspired by an old Japanese folk belief, which states that when a child is born the gods attach an invisible red thread to the baby’s finger and intertwine it with the threads of other people.

“I believe that we are all connected, and the threads resemble these relationships. The string can be tangled, knotted, tied, or stretched the same way relationships are,” said Shiota. “We cannot see these connections with our eyes. If we are able to, the red space would become visible.”

Weaving strands of international fiber art
Wu Huixin / SHINE

Miguel Rothschild’s installation work

Weaving strands of international fiber art
Wu Huixin / SHINE

“Unravelled” by Unknown Fields

Weaving strands of international fiber art
Wu Huixin / SHINE

Chiharu Shiota’s installation work

Unlike the previous two iterations, this year artists attempted to create multidimensional links between digital fiber and other new media.

“The exhibition presents a new exploration of fiber art from artists, since modern art is becoming more closely integrating with emerging media,” said Feng Boyi, curator of the exhibition.

“Unravelled,” a film and textile-mixed installation, shows the threat which fast fashion supply chains pose to traditional indigenous craft techniques. Unknown Fields, a design research studio directed by Kate Davies and Liam Young, created the work.

The film depicts a young Indian worker walking slowly through a series of dramatic scenes, from her home village amongst the cotton fields, to the textile mills and factories of the vast textile industry.

Her journey suggests the catwalk along a fashion runway, the path disposable fashion takes in its global production and the journey so many women make from villages to the factories.

In addition to works which unveil industrial ecology through fiber art, some pieces present a poetic style filled with philosophical meanings.

Argentine artist Miguel Rothschild used printed fabrics, fishing lines, lead balls, acrylic and framed photography to create a roaring sea hanging in the air.

He was inspired by a poem from Jorge Luis Borges called “Elegy.” In this artwork, the sea is also the sky. They are two sides of a coin seeking to be discovered.

Weaving strands of international fiber art
Wu Huixin / SHINE

Dresses designed by Iris van Herpen

Weaving strands of international fiber art
Wu Huixin / SHINE

Miriam Medrez’s installation work

Costume design is another indispensable part of fiber art.

Dutch artist Iris van Herpen collaborated with Jólan van der Wiel on several dresses that were inspired by natural phenomenon.

Herpen is a fashion designer who is widely recognized as one of the most talented and forward-thinking creators who continuously pushes the boundaries of fashion design.

“The Moon Dress” was coated with layer of metal and resin, and then magnets were used to create a three-dimensional texture resembling the crater-covered moon. Another dress, the “Battling Bird,” was made with thousands of laser-cut feathers.

Fiber art in its present form was introduced into China in the 1980s. This was thanks to Maryn Varbanov from Bulgaria, who established China Tapestry Academy at Zhejiang Art College (today’s China Academy of Art).

One of his Chinese students was Shi Hui, who now is the head of the Fiber and Space Studio of the China Academy of Art, and the founder of the triennial.

Date: Through February 9, 9am-4:30pm (closed on Mondays)

Address: 128 Nanshan Rd

Admission: Free

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