In her latest work, Dana Awartani meditates on themes of sustainability and cultural destruction. The work is composed of naturally dyed silk fabrics, handmade in Kerala, which have been stretched onto frames and displayed in a serial manner along the gallery’s walls. The fabrics are saturated with a multitude of natural herbs and spices that have specific medicinal functions in South Asian and Arab cultures. Awartani’s material choices speak to the work’s ethical and ecological terms of production, and further embody acts of resistance against mental and technological colonial violence given the dual emphasis on artisanal production and indigenous medicinal knowledges. Awartani also creates tears and holes in the textiles, which correspond to the silhouettes of physical violence enacted on buildings in Arab nations at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. Sourced from the Antiquities Coalition (an organisation that catalogues and protects these vulnerable heritage sites), the accompanying texts for each panel list the exact location and time of these traumatic events, as well as the cause and the group claiming responsibility. Mending these punctures through a process of darning (tracing holes or rubble with thread), Awartani’s work metaphorises possibilities of collective healing while recalling a venerable tradition of repairing and revering objects.
Dana Awartani engages in critical and contemporary reinterpretations of the forms, techniques, concepts and spatial constructs that shape Arab culture. Steeped in a multitude of historical references, especially Islamic and Middle Eastern art-making traditions, Awartani’s practice straddles continuity and innovation, aesthetic experimentation and social relevance. Spanning painting, sculpture, performance and installations, Awartani’s commitment to historically situated and locally sourced materials lends a rare sensitivity to urgent political concerns of gender, healing, cultural
destruction and sustainability. Consistent throughout the artist’s work has been her philosophical elaboration of geometric patternsas an alternative genealogy of abstraction.
Let me mend your broken bones 1, 2023
Darning on medicinally dyed silk and paper
8 Pieces: 27 x 36 cm (each)
8 Pieces: 10 5/8 x 14 1/8 in (each)