October 23, 2013

Wax Cloth Statements

For my work as an artist and as a blogger I Google a lot. Reading different blogs about textiles, art, design and more keeps me updated about what I need to see and know. A few weeks back I gave a lecture, De reis naar Batik: making a statement, during the Najaarsdag of the Nederlandse Kostuumvereniging in Amsterdam.
They asked me to tell about the origin of Vlisco and about the Batik industry today. When talking about these subjects, next to a lot of books and articles, I needed a lot of pretty pictures. This of course is not very difficult with such great subjects.

I already had the colorful photos by the Italian photographer Anthony Pappone, of the Dipo Ceremony* in Ghana, for a long time in my download folder. I wanted to use them for a blogpost, I saved them and for the lecture they came handy. I used them to show that Vlisco is still very important for ritual and ceremonial use. We in the Netherlands mostly know it for its bright, powerful campaigns with beautiful models showing high fashion clothing, but in West- and Central-Africa Vlisco is not only a fashion item, it's cultural heritage. When I found these photos, I was so surprised to see them used in such a traditional, basic way. Beautiful and very strong photos!

While preparing for my lecture I was looking for images of Mama Benz, the entrepreneurs that not only sold Vlisco but also named them. Today at the Design Dialogue at the Vlisco Unfolded exhibition (Dutch Design Week) I learned that it's supposed to be Nana Benz, and not Mama Benz. Nana means woman and not mother or grandmother, so there is our Dutch mix up with the translation.
The legacy of the Nana Benz is very important, they made the Vlisco into the African fabric it is today. By giving an extra meaning to the cloth, it represented more than just showing of your great new design. You gained a voice, you could make a statement by wearing these fabrics.

“The wise man says during the day what the wax says at night." A proverb from Burkina Faso

The last two images I wanted to share are made by photographer David Pace**.
"Although I photograph on the street and not in the studio, it was easy to find the colorful backgrounds I had in mind in Bereba on market day. In their booths merchants hang bolts of colorful textiles, sheets, blankets and fabrics of every color. My practice is to find a suitable background with even, soft lighting and wait for my subjects to appear. The market is always crowded with villagers dressed in their finest clothes so I seldom have long to wait."

I love these photos, instant Wax Cloth Statements! I showed these two during the lecture because they nicely show why you need 6 yards. You can make a dress, skirt or top and a headband out of one cloth. Traditionally it had to be the same pattern, but now it becomes more common to mix up patterns and Vlisco stimulates to do so in their campaigns.

Today I visited the exhibition Vlisco Unfolded*** and the Design Dialogue: History Unfolded at the Dutch Design Week. I will write about it soon, but first try to visit it yourself! Just follow the Vlisco-patterned arrows in Eindhoven (NL)! Enjoy!

* More photos of the Dipo Ceremony by Anthony Pappone on www.photographyserved.com/gallery/Dipo-Ceremony-Krobo-Ghana/5767485
** More photos by David Pace see post "PHOTOLUCIDA: DAVID PACE: SUR LA ROUTE AND MARKET DAY" on www.lenscratch.com
*** See v-inspired.vlisco.com for more about the Vlisco activities during the Dutch Design Week (till 27 october)


Mien B said...

A friend and I are going to visit the exhibition tomorrow.
Monday we did the tour through the factory and..............visited the shop.Marvellous !!!!!

Sabine Bolk said...

Enjoy Mien!
Hope I can visit the factory one day too, sounds great!