Saturday, February 28, 2015

Muslim Headscarves[1-2]
Wearable Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

History of the Veiling of Women[1]
The first reference to veiling dates to an Assyrian text in 13 BC. In the text, the practice of veiling was described as reserved for "respectable" women or women of the elite; prostitutes and women of lower-classes were forbidden from veiling. Likewise, elite women in ancient Greco-Roman, pre-Islamic Iranian, and Byzantine societies practiced veiling. It was not until the reign of the Safavids in the Ottoman Empire, an area that extends through the Middle East and North Africa, in the 16th century that the veil emerged as a symbol of social status among Muslims. Since the 19th century Muslims have embraced veiling as a cultural practice rather than simply an Islamic practice.

Miniature sculpture of a seated woman wearing a head veil, dated around 2350 - 2250 BC. The veil drapes over the shoulders and back and may have been typical for women of status in ancient Syria. Recovered from the Ebla Palace at Tel Mardikh and now held in the Idlib Museum, Idlib, Syria.

One of the most frequently cited Qu’ranic verses used to defend the wearing of the hijab is the surah 24:30-31:
The believing men are enjoined to lower their gaze and conceal their genitals and the believing women are enjoined to lower their gaze and conceal their genitals, draw their headdress to cover their cleavage, and not to display their beauty, except that which has to be revealed, except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves, or eunuchs or children under age; and they should not strike their feet to draw attention to their hidden beauty. O believers, turn to God, that you may know bliss (Qur’an 24:30-31).

In the year 610 AD, Muhammad ibn Abdullah of Arabia is said to have received divine revelation from the God of Abraham, through the representative Archangel Gabriel. These recitations, being incrementally revealed over a 23 year period, are known as the Qur'an.

In the following verse, Muslim women are encouraged to draw their jilbab around them in public, as a means of distinguishing them from others and as a way of avoiding harassment:
Those who harass believing men and believing women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) a calumny and a grievous sin. O Prophet! Enjoin your wives, your daughters, and the wives of true believers that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): That is most convenient, that they may be distinguished and not be harassed (Qur’an 33:58–59).

There are various interpretations applied to the reading of these verses. There are also several hadiths, or narrations describing the words and deeds of the prophet Muhammad, believed to clarify and supplement the Qu’ranic description of the hijab.

Seven Types of Muslim Headscarves for Women[1]
The word hijab comes from the Arabic for veil and is used to describe the headscarves worn by Muslim women. These scarves come in a myriad of styles and colors. The type most commonly worn in the West is a square scarf that covers the head and neck but leaves the face clear.

Courtesy of reference[2].

The al-amira is a two-piece veil. It consists of a close fitting cap, usually made from cotton or polyester, and an accompanying tube-like scarf. The shayla is a long, rectangular scarf popular in the Gulf region. It is wrapped around the head and tucked or pinned in place at the shoulders.

Al-Amira and Shayla.
Courtesy of reference[2].

The khimar is a long, cape-like veil that hangs down to just above the waist. It covers the hair, neck and shoulders completely, but leaves the face clear. The chador, worn by many Iranian women when outside the house, is a full-body cloak. It is often accompanied by a smaller headscarf underneath.

Khimar and Cador.
Courtesy of reference[2].

The niqab is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear. However, it may be worn with a separate eye veil. It is worn with an accompanying headscarf. The burka is the most concealing of all Islamic veils. It covers the entire face and body, leaving just a mesh screen to see through.

Niqab and Burka.
Courtesy of reference[2].

Modern Muslim Headscarves

Turkish Women Wearing Modern Headscarves.

Bridal Headwear

Arabic Scarf Collection 2013-14

Arabic Scarf Collection 2013-14 - Cashmere Scarf

Hijab Fashion Trends For Muslims Women, 2013.

Abayas, Jilbabs, Hijabs, Scarves, Shawls, Jackets, Skirts Sets (combined sets of upper and lower clothes and head scarf).

Printed Headscarves For Teenage Girls


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Balinese Painting – Tabing (Part I)

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Balinese paintings fall into five categories: flags and banners; (ii) ceiling paintings; (iii) ider-ider (cloth painting in a horizontal strip format); (iv) langse (form of a cloth painting used as a curtain) and, (v) tabing (kind of cloth painting in a rectangular format hung on walls) – Part II, Part III, Part IV.

Today’s post will focus on the tabing, but before we do, we need to discuss the iconography contained in all the above forms of Balinese paintings.

Tabing – Plintangan (35-Day Calendar).
Comments: Kamasan work by Pan Seken (1940s). Very halus work (i.e. highest workmanship) with fine drawing and writing.
Courtesy of reference [1].
Comment: The Balinese calendar was derived from the Saka Calendar of the ancient Hindu tradition. The Saka Calendar - one of two most popular calendars in India – is based on a year with twelve lunar cycles and therefore broadly similar to the Gregorian (current Western) calendar. But the Balinese calendar, locally modified, also incorporates the Pawukon system, when a year (which was believed to be based on a rice growing cycle) had 210 days and 10 different week cycles running simultaneously.

Iconography in Balinese Paintings
General Comments
Balinese paintings are highly stylized and there are sets of conventions about the representation of characters that are rigidly followed. These concern principally the face of the character and the costume, particular the headdress. The limbs and body are freer from restriction and can be used to show action, while the position of the hands and arms often denotes emotion (e.g. grief, anger etc.) in a series of postures that are conventional in form - mudra.

Sketch of Twalen – a Sudra (i.e. a peasant) type.
Courtesy of reference [1].

Animals are usually shown in profile. The trunks of humans, gods and other non-animals are shown full on, with arms and legs turned the same way as the head. Heads are shown in three-quarter view, but raksas (i.e. demon), peluarga (i.e. animal-headed members of Rama’s army supporters) and other mixed animal/human forms have the top of the face in three quarter view but with the mouth and teeth well emphasized, in profile. Trunk and limbs are used to show action, but the most important part of each individual is the face, which reveals fundamental character and moreover, positions the character on the axis of: Refined, Human-Coarse, Animal. The costume and headdress reveal the social status of the individual.

Facial Characteristics
The face is the clue to the character of any individual. The representation of the principal facial feature is subject to a set of conventions that can be translated into sets of graphic elements each with a limited number of variations. The five principal facial features and their range of variants are listed below.

The Eye
(i) The refined male eye – straight at the bottom and curved at the top.

Most refined male eye and face (i).
Courtesy of reference [1].

(ii) The refined female eye – curved at the bottom and nearly straight at the top. This eye is also used for Sikandi (i.e. male) as an indication he had been a female in a previous incarnation.

Queen - refined female eye and face.
Photograph courtesy of reference [1].

(iii) The “demonic” eye – round and bulbous, associated with demonic characters, of the left, and with power of an unrefined but not necessarily evil type.

Monkey peluarga - the demonic eye and face (ii).
Courtesy of reference [1].

(iv) A wavy variant of the female eye, used for many Sudra and peasant types, particularly older ones. It is always depicted on the folklore characters of Twalen (see above) and Morda, who are Sudra and very old. It is also a distinguishing characteristic of Drona, the teacher of both Pandawas and Korawas and an extremely aristocratic and powerful figure. The eye form is therefore somewhat ambiguous, being associated with individuals of both high and low status and of great power and those who are powerless.

The most refined characters have eyebrows, which are a simple fine-line arch above each eye (see most refined male and Queen depicted above). In less refined forms there is a bridge, presumably indicating wrinkles, joining the two eyebrows across the top of the nose (see below and Twalen). In animal-derived forms and demons the eyebrows are bushy, and often have a pair of fangs rising out of them just at the bridge of the nose (see Monkey above and sketch below).

Tough but not a demonic King.
Courtesy of reference [1].

Facial Hair
The upper lip is clean-shaven in refined young men (see below). No loss of refinement is necessarily implied in the simple style of a moustache, which curls down from the upper lip (see below).

Resi (i.e. heavenly priest), Pedanda (i.e. title of a Balinese Brahmana priest) or Begawan (i.e. title for Ksatria who became a high priest) – wearing a ketu (i.e. form of headdress).
Courtesy of reference [1].

However, the larger moustache, which grows from both upper and lower lip, and appears to have wax ends pointing upwards, indicates a coarser character. It is almost always accompanied by bulu (tufts of hair) down the side of the face – an unmistakable sign of coarseness (see tough but not demonic King).

Aristocratic noses are straight and thin with pointed tips and little sign of nostrils. Any bending of the nose, widening of nostrils and rounding of the shape is an indication of lack of refinement, and proceeds in many degrees right down to a pig snout and other totally animal nose.

The last category of facial variation is teeth and lips. Here refinement consists of small teeth with straight edge, in a small mouth with thin lips (see most refined male, above). The opposite is once again based on an animal model; a large protruding mouth with sharp pointed teeth and fangs, thick lips and a wrinkled chin (see monkey peluarga, above). There are many intermediate forms. Twalen, for instance, has a protruding mouth with a knobby chin, but straight edged teeth (see Twalen above). Animals and animal/human mixtures are almost always shown with fangs not only protruding from their mouths, but with supplementary fangs, growing through their cheeks just in front of their ears (see tough but not demonic King).

Other Delineations
There are many axes in the delineation of character: Human/Animal; Power/Impotence; Beauty/Grotesqueness; Refinement/Coarseness; High Status/Low Status; Right/Left. These axes are all independent of each other and any particular character may be shown as being at a set of totally unrelated points on each of the axes. It is only the rare individual such as Rama, who is at the high end of all the scales.

Headdress and Social Status
If the face is the main indicator of the nature of the individual portrayed it is the headdress and hairstyle that indicate social status. Social status has nothing to do with good or evil, left or right. Both these sides are complete with all grades and hierarchies being represented in these delineations.

Bird peluarga. Note: the headdress and bulbous eyes, indicating the low status of an animal compared to the aristocratic Queen.
Courtesy of reference [1].

The male costumes of the mythological period are complex consisting of over twenty different named pieces. They are however, standard, most of the characters wearing the same costume regardless of rank or side. Below are a list of indications of social status.

The most elaborate sort with a high central feature are worn by the most important gods, detia (i.e. class of demons) and raksasa (i.e. demon) but rarely by men.

Raksasa or detia (i.e. terms for classes of demons).
Courtesy of reference [1].

Apart from ruling and fighting, the main other aristocratic occupation is that of the Brahmana priest. The most exalted and powerful priests wear the ketu, which looks like a turban (see Bird peluarga) and is a very distinctive feature. There are also some less holy versions worn by other priests and resi (see above).

Lower Class Headdresses
The lower classes have a number of undistinguished headdresses and often wild and grotesque hairstyles. Here, too, there is little change between the two sets of stories.

Women's Headdresses
Women’s headdresses show less variety and are usually related to men’s, but there is one curious convention. In some cases women’s headdresses are shown “full face”, but the face itself remains in three-quarter view (see Queen above). Other women’s headdresses are shown in three-quarter view like the men’s.

The costumes of the rulers, princes, noblemen and various court functionaries in the post-mythological paintings correspond more or less to what was actually being worn at court in Bali in the last few hundred years. The crown totally disappears, and rajas (i.e. Kings) wear the upswept spiral hairstyle, which is often apparently covered with cloth, colored or patterned. Senior ministers and junior royalty have a similar style, but without cover. The “lobster claw” headdress and its junior variants also vanish and a new style of hair for courtiers and other aristocrats emerges; the hair is swept up and back and tied or ornamented to give an effect not unlike a thick “pony tail”. A new class of courtier also appears – the demang demung - a junior minister, who is shown bald. These differences are so pervasive that a brief glance at the male costumes and headdresses of any painting reveals at once whether it is of mythological or a post-mythological story.

Traditional Balinese Painting: Tabing
Tabing are roughly square and are put against the wood back of the raised bed, which is the center of all Balinese household rituals – forming a backdrop to the offerings laid out on such occasions. They are also used in a similar way in temple pavilions. The form covers not only illustrative scenes, but also various kinds of calendars, which are painted in the traditional style.

Tabing – Tantri (detail of the work).
Size: 46 x 66 cm.
Courtesy of reference [1].

Comments[1]: Kamasan, 1972. Four stages in the production of this halus work. The set of paintings was produced by the family of Nyoman Rumiana. His son, Nyoman Tenkub, did the initial drawing in all four versions.

Sketch by Nyoman Tenkub.

Various family members did the coloring.

Detail of work.

Nyoman Rumiana himself did the black line finishing and added the white touches (see below).

Detail of the work.

The scene is the beginning of the Tantri series of stories. The raja, seated on his lion throne under two state umbrellas, is receiving from his minister (kneeling on the other side of the tree) the offer of the minister’s daughter, Tantri. Tantri herself is seen in the lower right, accompanied by an old female servant. Above the two women are two court resi, while below the raja are two courtiers.

Tabing – Begawan Sumitra. (detail).
Size: 125 x 208 cm.
Courtesy of reference [1].

Comments[1]: Kamasan, ca. 1860. From the temple Jero Kapal, in Gelgel. Halus work of the finest quality, some fading or flaking.

This painting is a fine example of “mythological” presentation. None of the present artists were able to identify the story or the painter. There is an inscription to the lower right, which states: ”Adiparwa Begawan Sumitra”. There is a character Begawan Sumitra in the story of Sutasoma, but incidents shown in this tabing do not correspond to any versions of Sutasoma that is known.

The story centers on a princess and prince shown kneeling in the front of the begawan at the lower right, and at the left possibly being married by a priest. The prince is attended by sirih-box bearer (note: sirih (i.e. betel-nut and lime mixture chewed by Balinese) and the princess by a condong (i.e. female servant). Begawan Sumitra has a senior wife and two other high-status female attendants in both scenes and a small priest’s servant carrying a lontar box. At the top left is a scene, which stretches right to the center of the picture, in which the prince and princess accompanied by six different wild creatures, attract the anger of the raja, who has Delem and Sangut as attendants and is therefore of the left. In the center the same (?) raja, with Delem and a courtier, accompany the prince and princess on a journey. At the top right, the prince and princess are seen seated on a lion throne, with the raja behind and Delem and Sangut in front. They are attending a ritual performed by a priest, who by his hair style and eyes must have considerable knowledge of black as well as white magic.

At the bottom is a row of animals reporting to Prabu Singga – king lion. The bottom border, known as tantric does not refer to any particular story, but was a common feature of the finest paintings of the 20th Century. Pig, snake, tiger and dog can easily be identified.

Tabing – Adiparwa: The Churning of the Milky Ocean.
Size: 132 x 160 cm.
Courtesy of reference [1].

Comments[1]: Halus style but uses no kincu (i.e. Chinese vermilion), on European cloth. This painting is dated 7th March 1921 and not signed, although is attributed to Pan Alus.

The churning of the milky ocean is being accomplished by Mt. Mandara mounted on the turtle and with the snake – Basuki – that is tied around the mountain. The fish and sea monsters as well as land animals are being scorched by the heat and the three goddesses have emerged, together with a white horse. The goddesses are usually identified as Pertiwi, on the right, is resting amerta (i.e. water of immortality) in its winged goblet to dieta (i.e. term for a class of demons) much to the consternation of the gods. Vishnu, who appears in the right hand in the middle row of the gods, is also shown at the bottom chasing away Bruna (the god of the sea) who wants to stop the process of churning, out of sorrow for his own sea creatures that are suffering from the heat generated.
Courtesy reference [1].

Tabing – Adiparwa: The Churning of the Milky Ocean.
Size: 133 x 149 cm.
Courtesy of reference [1].

Comments[1]: Painted in 1972 by Manku Mura – a classical subject done in his most refined style.

In the center Indra sits on top of the mountain, granting rain to cool the overheated detia. Underneath him the three goddesses emerge from the earth together with the white horse. In the center is Gangga, on the right is Pertiwi, giving amerta to the detia, and on the left is Sri, offering gold to the gods. Underneath, Vishnu chases away Bruna, who has tried to interfere with the churning process. On the mountain and in the sea, various fish, animals and monsters burn with the generated heat. To each side at the bottom are the parekan, Twalen and Morda (on the left) Delem and Sangut (on the right). These gods starting from the center are in the top row: Vishnu, Ludra, Dharma, Sangkara and Gana; and in the bottom row: Ishwara, Semara, Agni, Mahadewa and Bruna. Note: The story is shown in totality and so is devoid of any linearity in terms of a time sequence.

Tabing – Asdiparwa: The Dewa and the Detia.
Size: 136 x 149 cm.
Courtesy of reference [1].

Comments[1]: The painting continues the story from the churning of the milky ocean up to the discovery of Kala Rauh (god). At the bottom left, Vishnu, seen in a nimbus (a bright cloud surrounding deities), to the left of a tree, transforms himself into the beautiful girl standing just in front of him. Rama, Siwa and other gods look on, and there is a full array of attendants including Twalen and Morda. On the bottom right, the beautiful girl proceeds to the court of the detia, where she is shown holding the amerta in its winged container, having successfully inveigled it out of the detia. The identical structure on the left and right in this bottom section gives visual expression to the equivalence of the detia and dewa (god), as two alternative orders.

The middle strip is occupied by a substantial battle between the gods and detia. The gods having drunk the amerta are at some advantage. From left to right, the gods in nimbus are Kubera, Sambu, Brahma and Vishnu. Underneath Brahma, Twalen threatens Delem, while just besides Vishnu, Morda smites Sangut. One or two of the gods’ supporters seem to be losing, but basically the battle is very much in their favor.

On the top row at the extreme right Delem brings news of an amerta distribution by the gods, to Kala Rauh, the last surviving detia (shown in his detia form on the extreme right). He transforms himself into a more god-like form, shown just in front of him, and proceeds to the distribution. On the extreme top left he is shown receiving amerta from Vishnu, while Indra looks on. No god or goddess of the moon is shown as drawing attention to the interloper in this version. In the middle scene, Vishnu throws his discus and the head of Kala Rauh, reverting to its detia form, soars into the sky, and the body falls lifeless, while Delem and Sangut flee. Behind Vishnu is Brahma, and on the other side are Indra and Sangkara.

Tabling – Adiparwa: Kala Rauh.
Size: 130 x 138 cm.
Courtesy of reference [1].

Comments[1]: European cloth, painted by Nyoman Dogol in ca. 1930.

This is another Adiparwa painting, and like most of them very static and highly hierarchically organized. On each side are 24 gods in three rows with, at the bottom, a row of attendants. Each god has its name written in the nimbus above the head – an indication of the literary nature of this particular painting.

Vishnu, from the left, has just hurled his discus at Kala Rauh, whose body is shown in the center of the painting with the discus severing his neck. Above the tree fly his still living hands and head. Vishu’s attention has been drawn to the interloper by the moon god (shown immediately behind Vishnu). In this version the moon is given male eyes, and in the written name above, a male designation. The maleness of the moon is in accord with the literary tradition. However, the moon is usually thought of by the Balinese as being female, and in paintings and carvings of Kala Rauh swallowing the moon – the cause of eclipses – the moon is shown as unequivocally female. In the center of the bottom are Twalen and Delem, registering distress and about to retreat.

[1] A. Forge, Balinese Traditional Paintings, The Australian Museum, Sydney (1978).
[2] The Australian Museum (Sydney, NSW).

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Yinka Shonibare MBE[1]
Artist's Profile

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Yinka Shonibare MBE was born in London (UK) in 1962. His family moved to Nigeria when he was three years old. Thus, he grew up in Lagos (the former capital city of Nigeria, which has since been replaced by Abuja). He returned to Britain at the age of 17 to do his “A levels”.

Yinka Shonibare MBE.

Shonibare contracted transverse myelitis, which is an inflammation across the spinal cord, at the age of 18 years old. This resulted in a long term physical disability in which one side of his body was paralyzed.

He studied Fine Art (FA) first at Byam Shaw School of Art (now renamed as the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design). He then studied at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he received a Master of Fine-Arts (MFA). After his studies, Shonibare worked as an arts development officer for Shape Arts, an organization, which makes arts accessible to disabled people.

Shonibare became an Honorary Fellow of Goldsmiths' College in 2003, and was awarded an MBE (Member of the “Most Excellent Order” of the British Empire – an Imperial order from the UK) in 2004 and received an Honorary Doctorate (Fine Artist) from the Royal College of Art in 2010. He was elected Royal Academician by the Royal Academy of Arts in 2013. He joined Iniva’s Board of Trustees in 2009. He has exhibited at the Venice Bienniale and internationally at leading museums worldwide.

In 2004, he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize for his “Double Dutch” exhibition at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam and for his solo show at the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London. In September 2008, his major mid-career survey commenced at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Sydney (Australia) and toured to the Brooklyn Museum, New York in June 2009 and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC in October 2009. In 2010, “Nelson's Ship in a Bottle” became his first public art commission on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle (maquette) in Trafalgar Square (2010).
Materials: Plastic, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, cork, acrylic and glass bottle.
Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Galley, London.
Photograph courtesy of Stephen White.
Comment: Making art for public places became a central theme of Shonibare’s latest artworks.

In 2013 a major retrospective of his work was exhibited at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (UK) featuring two new works, Wind Sculpture I and II.

Rendering of a Wind Sculpture in Trafalgar Square.
Materials: Fibreglass and steel.
Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Photograph courtesy of James O’Jenkins.
Comment: Wind sculptures were inspired by the sails of a ship.

The images below are only a vignette of the artists' work that was exhibited at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in 2013 named “Fabric-ation” and have been gleaned from the exhibition guide[1].

Shonibare’s Art Bearings
Yinka Shonibare MBE utilizes humour to tackle serious concepts. In doing so he invites you to raise your consciousness about the concept at hand. His art is always presented in an interesting but irregular context. Body forms are purposely transformed into animals that in most cases are “incomplete”, thereby making you aware that outward “completeness” - in itself - should never be confused with “perfection”. “Perfection” cannot be attained inwardly or outwardly no matter how “complete or incomplete” the outward form appears.

Fake Death Picture (The Suicide – Manet) 2011.
Materials: Digital chromogenic prints.
Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

In the exhibition – “Fabric-ation” 2013 – the fabric that Shonibare uses is recognizably “African”. It is colorful, with bold prints giving the feeling of being “out there”. How many times do you travel to Europe and the USA and see Afro-Europeans and Afro-Americans, respectively, devoid of color and so draped in black? However, when you travel to subterranean Africa (e.g. Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa etc.) those who can afford it, especially the women, drape themselves in the most colorful Batik clothing, usually imported from Asia. It is these roots that are ingrained in his psyche and so subconsciously give rise to an additional momentum in his artworks.

The exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park contained some 38 works[1]. Only images of eight of his works will be displayed below. These images will nevertheless give you a feel for his art.

Little Rich Girls (2010).
Materials: Victorian children's dresses made from Dutch wax printed cotton textiles, emulsion.
Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Photograph courtesy of Stephen White.
Comment: The cost of colorful clothing for children is beyond the means of most subterranean African families. Hence this installation immediately signifies wealth in an African context. What is interesting is how the installation has been arranged. The floating of the dresses signifies the ascent/decent of angels or fairies. Generally, it is the way parents everywhere view their children and so this installation transcends culture and speaks from the heart of humankind.

Flower Cloud I (2006).
Materials: Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, cast resin.
Courtesy of the artist and David Roberts Collection, London.
Photograph courtesy of Stephen White.
Comment: The ballerina stands in a majestic pose (on pointe) on a billowing mushroom cloud, unaware of what is below her feet. The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 brought a country to its knees and ended the Pacific theatre of WWII. However, like all nightmares that humans create, there is also a conscious creativity that is juxtaposed to it and moreover, that transcends such horror.

Earth (2010).
Materials: Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, leather, wood, metal base and globe.
Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Photograph courtesy of Stephen White.

Air (2010).
Materials: Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, leather, wood, metal weather vane and metal baseplate.
Courtesy of the artist and Sawikin Family Collection.
Photograph courtesy of Stephen White.

Fire (2010).
Materials: Mannequin, Dutch wax printed textile, leather, wood, brass, lamp stand, glass lamp shade, circuit board and LED.
Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Photograph courtesy of Stephen White.

Water (2010).
Materials: Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, leather and wood.
Courtesy of the artist and Private Collection.
Photograph courtesy of Stephen White.
Comment: The works - Earth, Air, Fire and Water – can be viewed as four parts of one work. “Earth” has a global head and the color of the costume signifies terra firma. The work also exhibits both men’s trousers and a woman’s decorative skirt (as a trailing item). On the other hand, “Air” with a weather vane as its head, indicates the movement of wind as it sweeps across the globe. The color of the costume also reiterates tempest, rain and sunshine. “Fire” - features a Victorian lamp, with the posture of surprise emphasizing the nature of fire to be uncontrolled. The Silver cup of “Water” will never run dry, with the figure pouring himself a drink that can never be drunk. Note: It is the “incompleteness” that gives these and other works a more irregular take. It is not “perfection” but rather it is the “imprecision” that makes these non-human figures more amusing and interesting.

Revolution Kid (Fox Girl) (2012).
Materials: Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, fibreglass, leather, taxidermy fox head, steel base plate, BlackBerry and 24 carat gold gilded gun.
Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery, New York/Shanghai.
Photograph courtesy of Stephen White.
Comment: Revolution Kids is Shonibare’s response to the London riots, the Arab Spring of 2011 and many uprisings worldwide. He is fascinated by social media, and how it can band large numbers of people together to fight for a shared cause. Hence the figure is carrying a gun in the right hand (i.e. raised above the head as a sign to herald others to follow) and a BlackBerry phone in the left (i.e. the means to inform people where to congregate). These humanoid animals (body and clothes of a human but a face of a fox) signify the contradiction between ordinariness, cunningness and mankind having a well-honed killer instinct.

Girl on Globe (2011).
Materials: Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile and globe.
Courtesy of the artist and Blain|Southern, Berlin.
Photograph courtesy of Stephen White.
Comment: The Girl on Globe is in a precarious situation. With the globe beneath her feet she appears to be so unbalanced that she will fall. It is as though Shonibare feels that humanity’s future is hanging by the merest thread and that the loss of a “head” in this sculpture has a greater significance, since it appears that we are blind to the cause why humanity may be just another animal casualty in Earth’s future history.

Space Walk (2002).
Materials: Screen printed cotton fabric, fibreglass, plywood, vinyl, plastic and steel.
Co-commissioned by the Fabric workshop, Philadelphia and Spoleto Festival, Charlestown, South Carolina.
Photograph courtesy of Stephen White.
Comment: Shonibare suggests that the exploration of space bears all the same hallmarks as the colonial expansion of the Earth. In “Space Walk”, whilst we recognized the space suit, and its fabric, nevertheless, the references it contains are unexpected, bearing the names and images of funk and soul groups, with the space shuttle itself named, Martin Luther. With the head as a black globe Shonibare is toying with the idea that the struggle between “them” and “us” will continue wherever humankind lands.

Cannonball Heaven (2011).

Another View.
Materials: Two mannequins, Dutch wax printed cotton, leather boots, foam cannonballs and fibre glass reconstruction cannon.
Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Comment: When visiting the HMS Victory, Shonibare became fascinated by its heavy artillery – its cannons. Firing the cannon are two figures wearing very ornate uniforms. The uniforms not only distinguish rank but also the social class obtained by each at birth. The cannon balls appear as “soft” sculptures, more like playthings than weapons of destruction. The humour underplays the scene, with one figure placing his fingers in his non-existent ears to deaden the noise. Whilst the scene is almost like a cartoon in construction, like so many Disney cartoon movies, the deadliness of conflict in battle becomes more acceptable due to this fabricated unreality. It is like drones that kill at a distance – they become video games to the operators and so are devoid of reality, making killing less psychologically damaging to the operators but so more deadly to the targeted population at large.

Food Faerie (2010).
Materials: Mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, leather, fibreglass and goose feathers.
Courtesy of the artist and Collection of Edward Tyler Nahem, New York.
Comment: “Food Faerie” is in part a response to the inconsistencies of global food production and the inequalities in international access to food, with the developed nations over consuming and over producing, (e.g. burying its waste as landfill) whereas the peoples of undeveloped nations are under nourished and rely on the compassion of NGOs. The reference in the title to “faerie” (an archaic spelling of fairy), places the works in a fantastical realm outside of the present “reality”. The faeries' large dark wings suggest a darker side to the fairy tale - an omen for unpleasant realities to overcome.

[1] Yinka Shonibare, MBA, Exhibition Guide, Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2013).

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Man Made Fibers - Other Textile Fibers[1]
Art Resource

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This is the thirty-sixth post in the "Art Resource" series, specifically aimed to construct an appropriate knowledge base in order to develop an artistic voice in ArtCloth.

Other posts in this series are:
Glossary of Cultural and Architectural Terms
Units Used in Dyeing and Printing of Fabrics
Occupational, Health & Safety
A Brief History of Color
The Nature of Color
Psychology of Color
Color Schemes
The Naming of Colors
The Munsell Color Classification System
Methuen Color Index and Classification System
The CIE System
Pantone - A Modern Color Classification System
Optical Properties of Fiber Materials
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part I
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part II
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part III
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part IV
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part V
Protein Fibers - Wool
Protein Fibers - Speciality Hair Fibers
Protein Fibers - Silk
Protein Fibers - Wool versus Silk
Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Cotton
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Linen
Other Natural Cellulosic Fibers
General Overview of Man-Made Fibers
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Viscose
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Esters
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Nylon
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Polyester
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Acrylic and Modacrylic
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Olefins
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Elastomers
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Mineral Fibers
Man Made Fibers - Other Textile Fibers
Fiber Blends
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part I
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part II
Melt-Spun Fibers
Characteristics of Filament Yarn
Yarn Classification
Direct Spun Yarns
Textured Filament Yarns
Fabric Construction - Felt
Fabric Construction - Nonwoven fabrics
A Fashion Data Base
Fabric Construction - Leather
Fabric Construction - Films
Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins
Fabric Construction – Foams and Poromeric Material
Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns
Weaving and the Loom
Similarities and Differences in Woven Fabrics
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part I)
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part II)
The Three Basic Weaves - Twill Weave
The Three Basic Weaves - Satin Weave
Figured Weaves - Leno Weave
Figured Weaves – Piqué Weave
Figured Fabrics
Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements
Crêpe Fabrics
Crêpe Effect Fabrics
Pile Fabrics - General
Woven Pile Fabrics
Chenille Yarn and Tufted Pile Fabrics
Knit-Pile Fabrics
Flocked Pile Fabrics and Other Pile Construction Processes
Glossary of Paper, Photography, Printing, Prints and Publication Terms
Napped Fabrics – Part I
Napped Fabrics – Part II
Double Cloth
Multicomponent Fabrics
Knit-Sew or Stitch Through Fabrics
Finishes - Overview
Finishes - Initial Fabric Cleaning
Mechanical Finishes - Part I
Mechanical Finishes - Part II
Additive Finishes
Chemical Finishes - Bleaching
Glossary of Scientific Terms
Chemical Finishes - Acid Finishes
Finishes: Mercerization
Finishes: Waterproof and Water-Repellent Fabrics
Finishes: Flame-Proofed Fabrics
Finishes to Prevent Attack by Insects and Micro-Organisms
Other Finishes
Shrinkage - Part I
Shrinkage - Part II

There are currently eight data bases on this blogspot, namely, the Glossary of Cultural and Architectural Terms, Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff, A Fashion Data Base, the Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins, the Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns, Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements, Glossary of Paper, Photography, Printing, Prints and Publication Terms and the Glossary of Scientific Terms, which has been updated to Version 3.5. All data bases will be updated from time-to-time in the future.

If you find any post on this blog site useful, you can save it or copy and paste it into your own "Word" document etc. for your future reference. For example, Safari allows you to save a post (e.g. click on "File", click on "Print" and release, click on "PDF" and then click on "Save As" and release - and a PDF should appear where you have stored it). Safari also allows you to mail a post to a friend (click on "File", and then point cursor to "Mail Contents On This Page" and release). Either way, this or other posts on this site may be a useful Art Resource for you.

The Art Resource series will be the first post in each calendar month. Remember - these Art Resource posts span information that will be useful for a home hobbyist to that required by a final year University Fine-Art student and so undoubtedly, some parts of any Art Resource post may appear far too technical for your needs (skip over those mind boggling parts) and in other parts, it may be too simplistic with respect to your level of knowledge (ditto the skip). The trade-off between these two extremes will mean that Art Resource posts will hopefully be useful in parts to most, but unfortunately may not be satisfying to all!

There are a number of fibers that are in a category on their own - for example, alginates and carbon fibers are just two of that type. This post will concentrate on these fibers.

General Properties
Strictly speaking alginates are not synthetic fibers. They are the calcium salt of alginic acid, which is chemically similar to cellulose: one hydroxyl (-OH) group is replaced by a carboxylic acid (-COOH) group on each ring. Alginic acid is obtained from brown (but not red or green) seaweeds. The Latin for sea weed is alga - hence the name.

Brown seaweed used in the production of alginates.

The powdered brown seaweed is treated with causation soda (sodium hydroxide or NaOH) to extract the soluble alginate. The solution is carefully purified and spun on viscose machines into an acid calcium chloride (CaCl2).

Production of alginate fibers.

Alginate fibers have two remarkable properties: they are flame proof because of calcium (Ca); and they dissolve in soapy water, because they are ionic salts. Note: table salt is an ionic salt and it too readily dissolves in water. It is this latter property which gives alginates their commercial importance.

Alginate fibers.

Delicate laces can be embroidered on alginate supporting cloths. When the fabric is washed, the backing disappears, leaving the fine lace. During the manufacture of socks, hosiery and other repeat-unit knitted items, alginate yarns can be used as separating threads between knitted units. During wet finishings, the socks or hose separate automatically.

An important use of alginates is as thickening agents for printing pastes used in the dyeing trade.

Artist: Marie-Therese Wisniowski, Millennium Palimpsest I (Full View).
Technique: Dyed, multiple over-dyes including clamp resist, discharged, illumination discharge, stenciled and silk screened employing thickened fiber reactive dyes on cotton voile with silver lurex thread. Size: 1.15 meters (width) x 2.00 meters (length).

Carbon Fibers
General Properties
Carbon in the form of graphite is such an excellent conductor of electricity that it is used as the contact in electric generators and motors.

When used as a textile fiber, carbon prevents the build-up of static electricity in specialised, mainly industrial fabrics.

Chopped carbon fiber.

Carbon can also be included in powder form in the melt of nylons that are to be used in anti-static applications. The small quantity needed minimises discolouration.

Because of their excellent strength and rigidity, carbon fibers have their main outlet as a reinforcement of other fibers as well as plastics and metal alloys.

Women's underwear body shaping split set bamboo carbon fiber seamless beauty care clothing.

Carbon fibers are produced by carbonising (heating to very high temperatures, but in the absence of oxygen to prevent burning) organic fibers such as acrylics or high-strength regenerated cellulose fibers. Precise control of carbonising temperatures (up to 3000oC) determines the physical properties of the resultant carbon fiber.

Carbonising Process.

[1] A. Fritz and J. Cant, Consumer Textiles, Oxford University Press, New York (1986).