Exhibition Research: Let Textiles Talk
acquired at the Fodor Museum
by Amanda Pinatih
In June I received an email about a possible donation of a couple of large posters made for exhibitions of Miro and Klee hosted in the Stedelijk. The email was directed to me as the previous graphic design curator had retired and her successor was not yet been hired. How lucky for me, besides the posters the donor also had a tapestry that she was trying to find a good home for. In the email it stated that the tapestry was bought in the “Jong Egypte weeft” exhibition in 1962 and can be found in the exhibition’s catalogue under number 39: Animaux en Liberté made by Tahia Aly (15 years) 183 x 63 cm. What a coincidence! I directly set up a meeting to come by and see the tapestry. The donor lived just a bike ride away in a house that reflected her many journeys as a photographer. We had a coffee and she explained that her mother worked at the Stedelijk Museum in the time of the exhibition with Paula Augustin, the then curator of applied arts and my pre-pre-predecessor.
The tapestry has always hung in the house of her parents and still holds a lot of sentimental value. However, for a lack of space it was in need of a new owner and perhaps a bigger audience. Because the textile was always lived with and loved by, and therefor exposed to light and air, it is in a slightly different state then the tapestries in the museum’s collection as those were conserved and stored away meticulously. But this doesn’t mean it is of any less value. What makes textile so special is the fact that it is so ubiquitous in every-day life, that we live with it and that it is part of the many rites of passage a person goes through; from birth to passing away.
Because of the condition the tapestry is in, we don’t have to treat it so carefully and it actually serves a different kind of purpose than a museum object. In the exhibition you can not only see this tapestry, but also touch, feel and even smell its intrinsic materiality. You can study how it’s made and see from up close the time and effort the maker has put into its creation.
The rug in the house of the donor, photo made by Amanda Pinatih on 7 July 2020.