Exhibition Research: Let Textiles Talk
An interview with Ali Selim
by Amélie Martelle
Of all three children who made the tapestries in our collection, Ali Selim, maker of Le Potier (1961), is the only one still working the centre today. We contacted Taya with the idea of an interview that could reflect the mind of an established artists who witnessed the various facets of the centre. By chance, a video interview was already in the makings by the Centre and was generously sent our way.
This video follows Ali Selim as he guides us throughout the building and its gardens, weaving, picking flowers and sharing memories with Sophie Gorgi. These conversations provide personal insights on Selim’s beginnings as a child with a keen curiosity for weaving and his idea of belonging today. We learn about the importance of community for inspiring makers daily and cultivating a fascination for their works that invited curiosity from all around the world.
Some interesting contrasts with previous findings emerge from the way Selim recounts the role of education and knowledge surrounding the centre. As a mentor and teacher, Wissa Wassef encouraged his students to pursue traditional schooling where they could learn to write and read. Selim sides with the notion of knowledge as power against ignorance when he expresses a sincere gratitude towards such guidance. The children were, in fact, not completely isolated from standard modes of expressions. Using words and numbers to make sense of their world complemented the spontaneous language of shapes and colours they trained on the loom.