Sewing and crocheting are often filed under the "craft" rather than the "art" label, but there are quite a few artists on display at the 57th International Art Exhibition in Venice who will contribute to change our collective perception of these techniques and of materials such as fabrics and textiles.
Visitors to the Giardini area will for example spot in a small room on the ground floor of the central pavilion an installation by Katherine Nuñez & Issay Rodriguez that consists in the recreation of a personal desk in a private room.
All the materials scattered on the desk are handmade: the books, magazines and journals left on the table and the shelves are made with fabrics and there are many crocheted pens, pencils, highlighters and Post-It notes as well (think about Lucy Sparrow's felt food products and her cornershop installations, but reinvented here with a stationery theme).
The installation is called "In Between The Lines 2.0" and was developed three years ago for a collective exhibition in Manila that focused on modern attitudes and consumption patterns.
Both born in Manila, The Philippines, where they also studied, Nuñez & Rodriguez try to rescue through their art forgotten techniques and practices and recreate them for our times.
While it would be rather original to see some of these crocheted pieces integrated in a fashion collection, the main aim of the two artists' work is not creating pieces for fashion designers, but to take the objects of our consumer culture and reinvent them, at times making them useless.
Stripped of their functionality the objects become decorative pieces, but the soft books also offer visitors a tactile experience, reminding them what it feels like studying from a physical book and manual as opposed to digital materials.
This installation is also a sort of critique to the educational system as the two artists remind us via their fabric magazines and journals that, projected into a digital future and too often forgetting about the importance of the tactile experience that physical books may give us, we seem to be collectively worried about the needs of the modern job market rather than the needs of the individual.
Since we have mentioned books, it is worth reminding that, for this year's Biennale project "Unpacking My Library", inspired by Walter Benjamin's 1931 essay, Katherine Nuñez & Issay Rodriguez recommended as reading materials Randolf S. David's "Nation, Self and Citizenship: An Invitation to Philippine Sociology", Haruki Murakami's "Mekurayanagi to nemuru onna" (Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman), Jean Robertson and Craig McDaniel's "Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art After 1980", Daniel Schacter's "The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers" and Tobi Zausner's "When Walls Become Doorways: Creativity and The Transforming Illness".