For the first time, acclaimed Argentinian textile artist Alexandra Kehayoglou will visit Bendigo’s La Trobe Art Institute to discuss her major new work, Santa Cruz River 2016-17 commissioned for the National Gallery of Victoria’s inaugural Triennial exhibition.
This informative discussion will draw the connections between the incredibly immersive and lavish hand-tufted rugs and tapestries of Kehayoglou and Australian artist James Geurts’ work currently exhibiting at the Institute.
The only opportunity to hear from both artists in Bendigo as they explore socio-environmental narratives through their artwork in different ways. Kehayoglou’s work is personal and draws on familial memories, whereas Geurts is responsive to the histories embedded in place, topography, geographical processes and human interaction with the environment. Guiding the discussion will be La Trobe Art Institute’s Senior Curator, Dr Kent Wilson.
Thursday 14 December
10:30am – 12:30pm
La Trobe Art Institute, 121 View Street
Buenos Aires-based artist and designer Alexandra Kehayoglou uses hand-tufted wool rugs to draw into focus landscapes under threat of irreversible change. Her powerful works merge traditional rug-making techniques with detailed site analysis, drone footage and photography.
Santa Cruz River, 2016–17 documents the proposed site of two major hydroelectricity dams on the Santa Cruz River in Argentina – the last free-flowing wild river in the country. These dams, part of an international finance and infrastructure negotiation between the Argentine and Chinese governments, draw into focus the tensions within globalisation; Argentina’s accelerating demand for international investment and infrastructure is pitted against politically controversial and potentially irrevocable consequences for the natural ecosystem.
The development of the carpet has been conducted in parallel with close monitoring of the planning of the dams: although the construction was suspended by Argentina’s Supreme Court in January 2017, a government-sponsored environmental impact study released in July defended the sustainability of the infrastructural works, making official approval more likely.
Kehayoglou is careful to define herself as an artist and designer, not as a political activist as such. This role implies a specific set of responsibilities in which the exploration of the traditions, craft and expressive power of carpet-making is paramount.
Alexandra Kehayoglou is an artist and designer based in Buenos Aires and investigates both social and ecological narratives and her family’s history of weaving, crafting wool rugs from leftover thread collected in the family carpet factory. Kehayoglou describes her works as ‘portals to memories’, which evoke a contrast between wild places in cities and natural sites under pressure from development. In 2014, Kehayoglou carpeted the runway for Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten’s Paris Spring/Summer 2015 show in a commission that has lead to collaborations with French fashion brand Hermès and Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. Last year Kehayoglou participated in Design Miami/Basel and The Armory Show in New York following her participation at the Frieze Art Fair, London in 2015 and exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Chamber Gallery, New York.
James Geurts is a Melbourne based artist engaged with both geographic and conceptual forms. His projects respond to environmental features such as tidal zones, fault-lines, horizons, meridians, and other conceptual lines and markers of place, using processes ranging from public art, sculpture, drawing, installation, video, photography and living monochromes. He activates the threshold between the immersive and the investigative and in doing so blurs the lines between his artistic practice and environmental observations. As the 2016 Georges Mora Fellow, Geurts has been artist in residence at La Trobe Art Institute where he has been researching the local area, its geology and history as fuel for his exhibition Seismic Transect, which opens in early December.
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