Dana Awartani talks through her work in 'Matter as Actor'
2 May 2023
In her latest work on view in Matter as Actor (until 24 June), Dana Awartani meditates on themes of sustainability and cultural destruction. The work is composed of naturally dyed silk fabrics, handmade in Kerala and 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, 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.