ESSAY BY LINE DUFOUR
Le Sort, Le Destin et L’Auto-Détermination | Suerte, Destino y Auto-determinación | Das Schicksal, das Geschick und das Selbstbestimmungsrecht :
Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination/Le Sort, Destin and l’Auto-determination (FD&SD) is a tapestry installation co-created by people all over the world, including many members, organisers, and participants in ARTAPESTRY exhibitions, such as Marika Száraz, Anet Brusgaard, Emöke, Ewa Bartosz Mazuś, Thomas Cronenberg, Birgitta Hallberg, and Włodzimierz Cygan. International participation reflects the panorama of Canada’s cultural mosaic, highlighting the importance that Canada places on respecting cultural differences yet also recognising that tapestry practice migrated from Europe with our European ancestors and more recent newcomers to Canada. Tapestry practice and traditions are a common ground that dissolves our differences and celebrates our diversity. The initiatives and mandate of ARTAPESTRY are echoed in FD&SD – “facilitating collaboration and cooperation, an exchange of ideas….,” but also in generating exhibition opportunities for tapestry weavers and showcasing their work.
Composed of three sections, Fate, Destiny and Self Determination was conceived, designed and managed by Line Dufour, who wove the largest panel, referencing the contemporary practice of tapestry weaving, where artist and weaver are one and the same. The second panel was woven by visiting participants ranging from the inexperienced and amateur to the professional. This referenced traditional tapestry conventions in that many weavers worked on the tapestry at the same time or at various stages and were not the artists.
The third section is the main and most important component of the installation, composed of irregular shapes positioned at varying heights, between the two main panels, floating freely in space, as though the tapestry is pulling apart or coming together. It is here that we witness how the installation has come to embody what a vibrant artist-driven initiative it is and because of it, what it has been able to accomplish. Through Facebook and the internet, I was able to connect with tapestry weavers and textile artists around the world, and invite them to participate in co-creating the installation – transforming the isolation of tapestry weaving to a community endeavour. I did not expect such eager and enthusiastic responses from the day I first put out the invitation in 2013. I have been scrambling to keep up with the volume of submissions, their participation such a privilege and honour. To date, 400 people from 34 countries have contributed 700 shapes.
Inherent in the idea of Fate is that one has no influence over events and outcomes. Fate is defined as a force, energy, principle, element or power that prescribes to each person a set of limits, boundaries and confines. In Islam it is called Kismet. The Greeks called Fate, Moira. Greek Mythology speaks of the three Fates: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos who supposedly controlled each person’s fate. The youngest, Clotho, is a spinner and she determines the time of birth and spins the thread of life on her distaff. Lachesis measures the length of the thread to determine the length of one’s life; the time of death is decided by Atropos, who cuts the thread. Mythology and psychology distinguish between Fate and Destiny. Destiny, is considered an expanding field of possibilities alluding to our potential to influence our Fate. This makes Destiny kinetic. “The lives we construct are an inextricably woven fabric of influences, possibilities and accumulated consequences of choices made.” (James Hollis) Thus our destiny is in part influenced by our own efforts to be who we want to be, to become who we want to become and enables self-determination.
Weaving is an activity where one exercises a fair amount of control and in my attempt to mirror these technical aspects of weaving but also introduce the unpredictability of life, I wanted to give over some of that control to others. I also invited the element risk, chance and uncertainty in several ways: by not being sure tapestry weavers would even want to participate; by having others contribute in an expressive, authentic and creative way; by deliberately having unwoven areas in the larger tapestry panels, without knowing how I would resolve it technically; by not knowing if the installation would ever be exhibited and if necessary, where I would find resources to pay for any expenses related to it. So in this way, many aspects of the installation were left to chance – fate and destiny.
FD&SD has become a platform upon which to spotlight so many tapestry artists and create mutual benefit. All aspects of the installation are documented. A Facebook page for the project was created to showcase submissions and for participants to remain abreast as to its progress and journey : https://www.facebook.com/Fate-Destiny-and-Self-Determination-An-international-tapestry-project-194385150700425/. I photograph each shape as it arrives, and post it to the Facebook page. I also include any information each participant would like to share, such as their website, if they have one, and other comments they have made about the project or about their work and/or life. A page dedicated to the project on my website: https://www.linedufour.com/fate-destiny-self-determination and I have also started an Instagram page @tapestrline where a shape is posted daily and is seen as a work of art on its own. Each time the installation is exhibited I include an updated list of all contributors’ and participants’ names. The installation is ongoing and with each successive exhibition, a storm of new shapes flies in for inclusion. If you would like to participate, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each time the installation is exhibited it is different, adapting to the space and reflecting the aesthetics of the co-curators. To date the installation has had eight exhibitions and by the time of publication will be into its ninth, with three others scheduled to follow, thanks to many of the co-creators of the installation who have had a hand in creating these opportunities. Most of the exhibitions are by invitation. The installation has been exhibited at Craft Ontario in Toronto (2014); Galerie Trames at the Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles (2015); the Doyle and Margaret Hartman Gallery, Regis University, Denver, Colorado (2015); the Craft Council of British Columbia, (2015); the 9th From Lausanne to Beijing Biennale, Guan Shanyue Art Museum, Shenhen, China (2016); World of Threads, Oakville Ontario (2016); the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, California (2017) as part of the ATB11; the Centre D’Actions Culturelles de la MRC de Papineau in Quebec (2017) and the 7th World Textile Art Biennial at the Fundacion Pablo Achtugarry in Punta del Este, Uruguay. Exhibitions are also planned for Ireland, Germany (2018) and Brazil (2019). If you would like to stay informed, please sign up for the news letter at https://www.linedufour.com/fate-destiny-self-determination.
The ARTAPESTRY and Fate, Destiny and Self Determination initiatives bear a certain similitude on many fronts. The thrust of their efforts has been focused on creating ‘comm-unity’ within the larger tapestry population of practitioners by spotlighting the work of participating artists who come from many different countries, cultural traditions and backgrounds. Like my Canadian project, ARTAPESTRY initiatives emerged from an absence of exhibition possibilities for tapestry artists. This was made more challenging by tapestry’s being continuously overlooked by main stream and public gallery arenas. ARTAPESTRY performs a vital role in championing the contemporary tapestry weaver and their oeuvres by providing a much-needed framework that offers consistent exhibition opportunities for them, not only to showcase their work, but to showcase work in many venues in Europe. The eagerness of tapestry artists to subscribe to the efforts of FD&SD and ARTAPESTRY evidences the desire for, not only interconnection, but above all, the need for strategies that champion their efforts, increase their visibility and generate the recognition tapestry weavers deserve.
Line Dufour © 2017