Dance of Pattern

Date: Sep 28, 2005 - Jun 25, 2006
Artist: Farheen Haq
Curated by: Patricia Bentley

Textiles speak in a universal language of patterns. Agriculture, architecture, music and ritual all incorporate time-honoured patterns inspired by nature and inflected by their practitioners' cultures and environments.

Patterns are rich in meaning; for example, a diagonal stripe pattern on Javanese batik is called parang rusak, which means “broken sword destroyed,” and signifies the wearer is a great destroyer of enemies. Other objects in Dance of Pattern include a 20th-century strip-woven silk cloth from Ghana, made by an Asante weaver and meant to clothe a chieftain.

So how can textiles be said to “dance?” First, the hands of the maker mould and shape the cloth giving it the vitality of an intensely worked, three-dimensional object. This vitality is then accentuated when the textile is worn and the patterns adapt to the shape of the wearer's body. Finally, the patterns come to life as the viewer's eye follows the twists and turns across the surface of the cloth. 

This exhibition included two video installations by Farheen HaQ, which offered a contemporary look at textiles being manipulated in ritual ways to subvert traditional usage and to create new meaning. The first,Endless Tether is a large-scale video triptych of the artist being slowly wrapped and unwrapped in a long stretch of crimson fabric by a pair of male hands. The second, (un)covering features the artist wrapping six metres of fabric around her head.


Dance of Pattern, By Patricia Bentley, 2005