Jan 19–Mar 10, 2012
A group exhibition on the textile industry, past and present, and trade between Britain and India.
Social Fabric examines the social and economic role of textiles, particularly in India. Its starting point are works by artists Alice Creischer about the circulation of global commodities and by Sudhir Patwardhan who records the impact of the textile industry on Mumbai. Showing alongside are new artists' commissions, films, books, fabrics, prints and audio recordings.
Social Fabric focuses on the textile industry and its relation to capital, labour, colonialism, international trade and radical politics. Contemporary artworks are shown alongside original journals from Marx, Indian Chintz, films and mill workers' recordings.Social Fabric refers to Karl Marx's account of boom and bust in the industry and its effects on workers in Britain and India. The craze for Indian Chintz caused Spitalfields weavers to protest in 1719, and a century later the restrictions on imports devastated India's textile industry.
Work in the exhibition
Alice Creischer's installation d‘Apparatus for the Osmotic Compensation of the pressure of wealth during the contemplation of poverty uses textiles as a metaphor for the threads that connect a worldwide circuit of production and consumption, and cycles of investment, disinvestment and decline.Creischer's work also looks at textiles in the context of trade links between Britain and India - from the setting up of the East India Company through to decolonisation. The export of Chintz from India during the 17th to 19th centuries provoked strikes amongst Spitalfields silk weavers in date. The fluctuations in manufacturing eventually devastated whole sections of India's textile industry. Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India from 1947- 94 stated ‘the history of cotton and textiles is not only the history of growth of modern industry in India, but in a sense it might be considered the history of India.'Since the mid 1970s, Sudhir Patwardhan has tracked the rise and fall of the textile industry in Mumbai whose mills transformed it into the country's economic capital. His painting ‘Lower Parel' (2001) superimposes different urban strata: the now defunct factories, new small scale enterprises and high rise luxury apartments. At its height textile manufacturing employed one in three of the city's workers and migrants from surrounding villages. New social institutions evolved with forms of cultural expression that included street theatre, poetry and music.
Source: Iniva / http://www.iniva.org