Visual/textile narratives that resonate lives: testimonies of daily life and sufferings in arpilleras
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the potential of visual and textile narrative to create resonances between social sufferings of different local contexts. The focus is on arpilleras, a type of textile art originally from Latin America, that have recently seen an international expansion.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the potential of visual and textile narrative to create resonances between social sufferings in different local contexts. The focus here is on arpilleras, a type of textile art that portrays people's daily experiences in their political and social contexts, that are now attracting attention as media of testimonies. Arpillera-making as a social and political movement developed in Chile during the period of dictatorship. In urban working-class communities, women started to sew together scraps of old clothes and materials to picture their personal experiences: daily life under political oppression; mutual help in the poor neighbourhood; long-lasting search for a close family member who disappeared. Some of the works were exported, with the aid of international support groups, to let the world know the predicament the people were in. Recently the technique came to be widely known through international exhibitions to have inspired people in many different regional and social contexts to make their own works. The way the simplest forms of human figures, often three-dimensional small dolls, are used to represent serious social sufferings, against a backdrop of the home landscape in soft-textured applique, enables arpilleras to narrate complex senses of belongingness. This eloquence, if not fully graspable, touches the mind of those who see the works and evokes images of their own life experiences.
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