ARACHNE is an installation that deals with the topic of textile production, industrial female manual labour and global textile trading in a historic an contemporary context.
The underlying thought of the artwork is the unequal ratio of women and men involved in the craft production of textiles.
For centuries textile production has been carried out by women’s hands, often under great exertion. Until today women are being exploited under the most severe circumstances and conditions, almost kept imprisoned, to meet the needs for cheap clothing in the elegant Western world. Their payment is poor and the working conditions regularly violate all human rights.
Thus for instance, seamstresses in Bangladesh’s textile mills are forced to work up to 97 hours per week – without or with minimal industrial safety, bans on organisations and under high limitations of human rights. (source: www.bpb.de/internationales/menschenrechte/textilindustrie).
Those who benefit from this slave-like exploitation are usually men who thereby gain great profit, which they withhold. And the process of weaving inherently creates a relation to the spider.
To demonstrate this dichotomy in a pointed manner, Jan Kuck created a carpet design (inspired by the design of old Persian carpets) which symbolises the suppression of women in the industry of textile production and the profit exploitation of its male dominance. Further ornaments refer to the history of european textile production and the trade with textiles through the graphic application of the historic trade routes and buildings.
It is exactly those trade routes, which have always been important for transportation of merchendises. Where we once used traditional carriages, today information and goods travel with the „speed of light“ due to using the internet. This is one of the main reasons why Jan Kuck decided to use fibre optic cables for his installation.
The overall result is a carpet (4,6m x 2,5m big), which shows classical ornaments only on first sight, and which reveals the charged relationship explained above on a closer look. The glowing glas fibre fabric with it’s slightly changing colours creates a divinely atmosphere and concurrently serve as a metaphor for the beautiful appearance that textiles have always been creating.
As Jan Kuck want to examine the issue of textile production and weaving critically in this project, he must also take today’s operations in this field into consideration.
The world-wide network of the big textile companies is tightly knitted, like spiders they “guard” their territory and their profit margin, and positively fight each other.
But why ARACHNE?
A story from the ancient Greek mythology connects these two aspects in particular, rivalry and all attributes of a spider are united in one symbol that speaks for itself: ARACHNE.
Arachne was known as a talented and proud weaver. She was challenged by Athena for a contest in weaving, which she mastered outstandingly. Athena was so infuriated that she turned her mortal rival into a spider. This conflict can easily be employed to the strategies of today’s large corporations. For the implementation of these contents, Jan Kuck drew from diverse motives.
Pictures, logos, photos are stylised, alienated, assembled to new compositions, which he painted later with a slightly acid on the glass fibre fabric so that the light only shines where the acid touched the fabric.
For the motives he thereby goes back to the European roots of the Central European textile industry, and leads them back to the present – because history is only interesting when it’s capable of explaining the present.
All together ARACHNE criticize on the one hand the disparities for woman at the global textile production. On the other hand ARACHNE celebrates the beauty of strong woman, which is indispensable for our society.
Initiated and curated by ELISABETTA BRESCIANI
Assigned artist JAN KUCK
Produced by BERNHEIMER CONTEMPORARY
Supported by ALLIANZ ArtPrivat
Very big thanks to all supporters & friends who helped to realize ARACHNE!