‘Staging Material, Performing Culture,’ Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture 8:2 (2010), pp. 202-25.

Mitchell, Victoria ‘Staging Material, Performing Culture,’ Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture 8:2 (2010), pp. 202-25.


Through the auspices of the international biennial, contemporary practices in textiles have reached a maturity of cultural reference to which Mitchell and Nolan’s peer-reviewed article lends critical weight. Building on a body of writing, reviews and lectures addressing critical issues in the contexts of textile art and textile culture, the article supports and frames a relationship between exchange, conversation and enactment as manifested through textile practice in the context of a textile biennial, with Textile 07: Kaunas Textile Art Biennial as the focus in this instance. The article developed from a review of the Kaunas Biennial (also with Katherine Nolan for ‘Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture’, Vol. 7, No. 1., pp. 114-119, 2009) which addressed the general remit of the Biennial and a limited number of works, alongside wider critical issues arising from the Lithuanian context in relation to the agency of textiles in effecting and facilitating global exchange. Drawing on anthropological theory (Alfred Gell) and critical theory from art and performance (Amelia Jones), the collaboration sought to demonstrate the way in which Kaunas 07 offered a site for the cross pollination of traditional, radical and critical positions, mediated by practices specific to textiles. The article is significant in developing emerging discourse between local organisers Virginija Vitkienė and Ed Carroll, international curators Janis Jefferies (UK), Fernando Marques Penteado (Brazil) and Fiona Kirkwood (South Africa), and Mitchell (UK), as evident in online discussions focusing on contemporary textile culture (the article has been republished online to facilitate further dialogues and stimulate new audiences). As well as initiating the collaboration with Nolan and contributing substantially to the final editing, Mitchell’s contribution to the project focused on notions of textile and pattern as a significant and typically overlooked medium of international exchange, effecting contemporary dialogue through the biennial format.

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