Image Factories: African Cloth about Culture and Politics

Date: Jul 7 - Sep 5, 2004
Curated by: Max Allen

The cloth displayed in Image Factories comes from 16 African countries. The messages on this cloth are stylish signs of the times, conveying what's happening, who's hot and what's “in.” The people wearing these clothes, whether as skirts, shirts or headwrappers, become walking advertisements for their personal and collective ideas and aspirations.

This 2004 exhibition is about cloth that illustrates and communicates – featuring political and cultural heroes, idols and despots, proverbial wisdom, social campaigns and high spirits.

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The African cloth usually found in museums is made by hand, one piece at a time. The cloth in this exhibition is different – it was mass-produced for a mass market. The designers and printers are anonymous and sometimes, even the factories are not identified. What this cloth does share with its traditional hand-woven cousins is the fact that it is part of a cultural communication system; it can be “read” by people who speak its language. This exhibition is about that language and its expressions over the past 30 years

The eye-popping yardage displayed in Image Factories comes from 16 African countries. The messages on this cloth are stylish signs of the times, conveying what's happening, who's hot and what's “in.” The people wearing these clothes, whether as skirts, shirts or headwrappers, become walking advertisements for their personal and collective ideas and aspirations. This is cloth that illustrates and communicates – featuring political and cultural heroes, idols and despots, proverbial wisdom, social campaigns and high spirits. 

Image Factories is also about globalization and the policies of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, and their impact on African textile factories.

 

ESSAY

Image Factories, By Max Allen