Being - With
Being-With reflects some of the aspects that make fiber art and textile design different from other mediums. Through materiality or practice, these works engage with current social and environmental issues; they illustrate narratives from the present and will become archives for generations to come.
"There is no meaning if meaning is not shared, and not because there would be an ultimate or first signification that all beings have in common, but because meaning is itself the sharing of Being." Jean-Luc Nancy (2000). Being Singular Plural, p.2, Stanford University Press
This year's curator for Winter 2021-2022 SDA Premium Member Online Exhibition was interested in works reflecting on the role of textile artists and designers within the art world and society at large. The works exhibited remind us – either directly or with nuance – that the private vs public and nature vs civilization binaries are not opposing constructs but one and the same. That being said, the pieces in this exhibit also demonstrate the importance of deconstructing the power structures derived from these binaries and make tangible the concerns behind social and environmental justice through the use of materials and their archival properties.
The concept of the Being-With refers to the idea that "I" does not come before "we" and that there is no existence without co-existence. Although this term was coined by Jean-Luc Nancy in his book Being Singular Plural and follows the tradition of co-existential analysis within western philosophy, it is an ideology carried throughout time by many Black and Indigenous cultures worldwide. While historically, western art has supported an ego-centred rationale, and therefore capitalism, Indigenous craft-based practices in different regions of the world have resisted the effects of extractivism by recognizing that nature and community are part of the same. Whether directly opposing a dictatorship like the Arpilleristas in Chile or fostering resistance through memory during and after apartheid like the Amazwi Abesifazane in South Africa, cloth can capture the makers' embodied experiences, aiding us in the awareness of our humanity and interconnected existence. Subalternity is at the foundation of community-based textile practices; therefore, focusing on material relations and opposing the power imbalances perpetuated by a system established by individualism is integral to its existence.
Following the topics of this year's conference entitled Community Ties, this exhibition includes works that are subjective in nature but are directed towards the world around us. These works demonstrate the archival properties of cloth and other materials, establishing that the personal is political. The concepts and materiality of the pieces touch upon many of the issues we are confronted with daily and support the Surface Design Association's goal of providing a space for learning and meaningful collaboration within the Textile Arts and Design community.