For our first instalment, FiBRA provided 8 international artists with the opportunity to observe and participate in the textile-centred practices of Colombia's urban and rural communities.
Artists were invited to reflect on the questions at the core of our project and to integrate this into their work:
What role does artisanal textile work have at the heart of a community? How do globalisation and freedom of movement change our perceptions in relation to traditions? Does globalisation affect the preservation of crafts and the sustainability of these practices?
Our creative practices are concerned with an experimental and fine art approach to fibres; understanding textiles as a metaphor for knitting together ideas and concepts, interlacing traditions into our everyday lives, and looking into the deeper connection between fibres and the community at hand, absorbing the spiritual beliefs of a community.
The paramount aspect of our project was the collaboration with two indigenous communities based in Colombia, The Kogi and Wayuu communities, for whom the preservation of ancient skills in the working of fibres have been passed from generation to generation. Most of Colombia’s rural communities consider natural fibres to be the core, indispensable element of their social structure. The spectrum of everyday uses includes wearable fabrics such as carrier bags either for personal items or for agricultural produce, as hunting traps, and in the domestic space, amongst other uses. These objects are carriers of the communities’ myths and beliefs. The very structure and process of textiles have an intrinsic relationship to cultural customs and the social fabric of these communities.
During our journey, FiBRA’s artists had the opportunity to embark on a once in a lifetime opportunity to live with the Kogi and Wayuu communities during a transitional time in Colombian history and the future of Indigenous Cultures. We were faced with the realities of globalisation and the impact on the ecosystem and society due to bad management of the natural resources, plastic pollution and the increase of tourism in indigenous territories and sacred areas.
We experienced first hand the presence of armed groups and the abandonment of the government of these rural areas of Colombia.
Tourism in Colombia has grown more than 300% since 2006 when 1 million foreigners visited the country.* Indigenous communities isolated for hundreds of years, who do not even speak the national language (Spanish), are now confronted with new economic models, new materials and new ways of interacting with other cultures. Their home and natural environment are now perceived as a source of income for national interests, especially now the peace treaty negotiations with armed forces are being signed. Due to these communities’ geographical location, an organised touristic program was not put in place leaving them on their own to confront the challenges imposed by new visitors.
Colombia (2018) was a project developed in collaboration with our partner and friend Barbara Abella.
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Photos courtesy of the artists. All rights reserved.