RAISA KABIR is an interdisciplinary artist, who utilises woven text/textiles, sound, video and performance to translate and visualise concepts concerning the politics of cloth, labour and embodied geographies. She addresses cultural anxieties surrounding nationhood, textile identities and the cultivation of borders; as well as examining the encoded violence in histories of labour in globalised neo-colonial textile production. Her (un)weaving performances comment on power, production, and the body as a living archive of collective trauma. She has participated in residencies and exhibited work at The Whitworth, The Tetley, Raven Row, Textile Arts Center NYC, and The Center of Craft Creativity and Design NC.
PERFORMANCE BY RAISA KABIR at the Whitworth from 18:30 - Free entry
Build me a loom off of your back and your stomach
'Build me a loom off of your back and your stomach... is a performance of durational dance, distance and diaspora. The artist Raisa Kabir weaves and dances, carrying the lengths of cloth-making labour throughout the gallery space. A visualisation of dislocated geographies, the weight of ongoing trauma, and their ghosts.
Textile and Place
12 - 13 APRIL 2018 Manchester School of Art & the Whitworth
The conference hosted by Manchester School of Art and the Whitworth draws upon Manchester past histories and contemporary associations with textile linked to place. Textile as a socially dynamic, communicative and active material offers a rich seam of enquiry into how textile participates and influences how we live. This conference seeks to examine how textiles connects with the idea of place in its histories, its production, sustainable future ecologies and in its narratives of migration, sociability and politics.
Textiles as materials are deeply linked to certain places, with associated specialist skills. They signify the nature of cultural identity, particularly relevant in the current socio-economic, political and global developments with Beyond Borders, an exhibition on South Asian textiles on at the Whitworth, providing context to this discussion.
"The body is a site of production" 2017 (resist, resist, resist) Weaving as a methodology, as a tool to use 'un-weaving' as a strategy to undo models of production/productivity, and re-situate the disabled body, and the racialised body so bound up with labours it cannot remove itself from. To spend 10hours weaving, building a loom, using the body as a loom, only to not produce cloth for any purpose or function. What does it mean to exist in this world and feel like your gender is unfunction, how trauma disables the body; the same body is a living archive, a geography of pain and trigger points. The body is a site of production. Resist resist resist.
The pieces to the right, "It must be nice to fall in love..." and left, "Amar Desh আমার দেশ" are woven by Raisa Kabir, the centre piece is the muslin jamdani sari on loan from Saiful Islam, woven as part of the Muslin Project, Drik gallery in Bangladesh by weavers in Rupganj. The video installation of the performance "Warping the borders, fringes; fractured..."on the adjacent wall. Below are items from the Whitworth South Asian textiles archive chosen and curated by Raisa Kabir
'Sick Time is Resist Time | Khairani Barokka, Richard Fung, Alice Hattrick, Raisa Kabir, Caspar Heinemann & Holly White Friday 26 May 2017, 6.30pm
An evening of performance and film exploring creative responses to living with illness.
Khairani Barokka will perform her poem Sliding Scale alongside extracts from her recently published Indigenous Species (2016), a Braille and text poetry-art book addressing issues of pollution, consumerism and habitat destruction. Alice Hattrick will read new writing on unexplained illness and familial influence. Raisa Kabir will present a new iteration of ‘You and I are more alike.…’, an intimate weaving performance mapping the intensive labour of textile production; healing trauma held in the body, disability, connection and kinship. Richard Fung’s Sea in the Blood (2000) will be screened, a personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the relationship of the artist to thalassemia in his sister Nan, and AIDS in his partner Tim.
The event is accompanied by food and drink from Reader's Digestion, A Health Zine, edited by Caspar Heinemann and Holly White.'
This is a performance piece where I unravel balls of white cotton - grown and spun in India, as well as using Bangladeshi spun yarn - around a series of warping posts that map out lines of geographical borders, partitions, links, and routes of pre partition colonial India. A series of windings that then draw red yarn across sites and boundaries of India, Pakistan, Kashmir and then the creation of Bangladesh through the conflict between West Pakistan and East Pakistan, a later by product of the borders created in 1947. Mapping conflict across these plains with warping a psyche geography. The piece is set in the Whitworth Art garden and is a site specific performance installation. The warping posts are inscribed with collected information in Bengali, news paper clippings documenting unrest, and also poems and written vignettes of memories, and affect of partition related to family trauma.
The accompanying film 2017 is of myself during the performance, walking around and around these borders and outlines in the white yarn, a use of my disabled body and the ongoing labours to create the piece. I then begin to slowly add the red yarn to re trace the lines of partition or noted historical areas of violence. It is instead of making a textile cloth out of the yarns themselves, the film and moving image documents the yarn itself becoming the artwork. The warps are later peeled off the pegs, and becomes woven in it's self, tangled and sculptural. It is the labour encapsulated in the collected yarn, that becomes the symbol of energy spent and recycled labour, unwinding, re-warping, re-stepping, retracing lines of actions and cauterisations. This collected entanglement of poems, Bengali writing on the posts enmeshed within the yarn, is pulled through the Art garden, and Whitworth gallery as a cathartic action to gather these political borders and colonial trauma many South Asians carry with them in their bodies through generational memory. The wounds of partition are still felt with religious and ethnic minorities caught on either sides in on going conflicts, still today.
"Warping the borders, fringes; fractured..." 2016
Being shown as part of Beyond Borders, Whitworth Gallery, May 2017 - June 2018
Beyond Borders, explores South Asian textiles bringing together four artists working on issues around post-colonial identity, ruptured spaces, authenticity, displacement and belonging. These artists are based in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and England, having developed artworks around these concerns, experimenting with a range of media and such as textiles, fibres, embroidery, film, photography and performance.
The exhibition highlights the changing landscape of the subcontinent in the twenty first century, post independence and partition.
Artists: Raisa Kabir (England), Yasmin Nupur (Bangladesh), Risham Syed (Pakistan) and CONA (a Foundation, artist-driven, not-for-profit, based in India).
Beyond Borders is exhibited across the Whitworth's main textile gallery. Each artist’s new work is debuted alongside textiles and/or objects from the Whitworth's textile collection. Pattern books and vibrant textiles are selected to responded and resonate with themes captured in the artist’s own creations.
Text relating to the Beyond Borders displays is interpreted in different Asian languages, and where ever possible narrated by the artist in their own voice.