Textile as Solace: Jo Ann Bitagcol and Nature Shankar
Pairing works by Filipino artist Jo Ann Bitagcol and Singapore artist Nature Shankar, ‘Textile as Solace’ explores textile as a medium of healing and hope. Although not acquainted, both artists offer meaningful ways of approaching difference, promoting a world of kindness and understanding.
Textile as Solace
Jo Ann Bitagcol and Nature Shankar
From soft clothes to warm blankets, textile has always been a source of comfort; its flexible yet durable qualities protect us in many ways. Pairing works by Filipino artist Jo Ann Bitagcol and Singapore artist Nature Shankar, ‘Textile as Solace’ explores textile as a vehicle of healing and hope. Although not acquainted with each other, both artists use textile to navigate difference and promote a world of understanding.
Jo Ann presents a series of ‘voodoo dolls’ made of either canvas or piña, a traditional Philippine fibre made from the leaves of the pineapple plant. Rather than to hex others, these dolls are meant to send blessings. Each figure has a heart made from delicate cross-stitches, forming tiny ‘x’s that signify kisses in today’s digital age. Occupying a nuanced position, these dolls also unite seemingly opposing forces: black and white, feminine and masculine, and the states of being naked and clothed, as well as attitudes of loving oneself and respecting others. Their intricate details reveal textile as a versatile medium, demonstrating strength in softness.
Nature similarly explores healing and rebirth through textile. By giving materials a new life, she transforms uncomfortable experiences of racist attitudes and micro-aggressions. Her works involve a combination of fabric from her Indian and Chinese families, and ‘comfort things’ – from love notes to food ingredients like beetroot and turmeric. Echoing ideas of revival, these materials are stripped down to their essence in a blender, and thereafter re-materialised into new surfaces. They then emerge as documental objects of strength, symbolising the power of self-reflection and resistance against sociopolitical tensions.
Through unique but connected approaches, Jo Ann and Nature feature dynamic ways of working with textile. They stand in line with a politics of care, one that focuses on our basic need for warmth, which is much needed in today’s climate.
Time & Location
Art Agenda, S.E.A.
23 Mar to 1 Apr 2022