The World is a Handkerchief Exhibition, Blackburn 20|20 Gallery

Original press release for this article:

“The World is a Handkerchief” began as an international collaborative project of 50 artists, featuring a collection of handkerchiefs which explore notions of homeland, family, displacement, and identity.

The New York exhibition took place 11 – 18 November 2020 at Blackburn 20|20 Gallery. Project curators Cecilia Mandrile and Claudia DeMonte commented that ‘even though much of the handkerchief exhibition tour is on an uncertain pause – as the whole world is, we are truly pleased to have been able to make this tangible exhibition a reality in these difficult times.’

The concept of the project is rooted on the age-old Spanish idiom ‘el mundo es un pañuelo,’ or as we may say in English, ‘what a small world.’ It praises serendipitous encounters, moments of discovering personal connections in distant places or unexpected contexts. Celebrating connections, and willing to nurture the disappearing tradition of the printed handkerchief, Cecilia Mandrile and Claudia DeMonte invited their mentors, students, and peer artists to share visual contemplation or personal stories on the various notions of homeland. They created a limited edition 25 handkerchiefs each and asked each artist to produce their own handkerchief, offering their creations in exchange.

Handkerchiefs – the foldable, portable, simple squares of cotton – have accompanied people in celebrations and farewells in many cultures for centuries, offered bodily protection and coverage, and sustained expressions of political tenets and spiritual beliefs. In “The World is a Handkerchief,” handkerchiefs become vessels of memories and itinerant narratives; containers of emotions; translators of wounds, signals of ideological resistance. Each piece epitomises a soft space for visual statements, to be carried as a tangible memento. Artists employed printmaking, painting, embroidery, drawing, and collage to capture their wandering, often disappearing recollections of homeland, as well as reflections on displacement and identity.

Participating artists: Victoria Arce, Guler Ates, Dotty Attie, Yuno Baswir, Sarah Bodman, Stephanie Brody Lederman, Joy Brown, Alicia Candiani, Matt Clay-Robison, Chiachio & Giannone, Tariq Dajani, Claudia DeMonte, Mariana Depetris, David Driskell, Eiman Elgibreen, Judy Glantzman, Joy Gregory, Hiroyuki Hamada, Sarah Hinckley, Maia Horta, Barbara Johnson, Laura Sue King, Katerina Kyselica, Luis Libretti, Eva Lundsager, Cecilia Mandrile, Ed McGowin, Jeannette Montgomery Barron, Keith Morrison, Erica Naito, Eduardo Padilha, Carinna & Grace Parraman, Alicia Paz, Jefferson Pinder, Alice Pixley Young, Boyo Quintana, Rocca Family, Alex Rojas,  Graciela Sacco, Soffía Sæmundsdóttir, Claudia Sbrissa, Berty Skuber, Marisa Tellería, Claudia Terstappen, Betty Tompkins, Sofia Torres Kosiba, Lucrecia Urbano, Kay WalkingStick, Katarina Wong, Aaron Yassin, Rossana Zaera, and Firooz Zahedi.

Alongside the exchange collaborative exhibition and driven by the collaborative and nomadic nature of Mandrile and DeMonte’s art practice, community-based print workshops have been developed. The presented chapter of this wandering genealogy includes the outcome of the workshops at Zona Imaginaria Graphic Studios (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and the Centre for Fine Print Research, MA Multidisciplinary Printmaking Programme (Bristol, UK). Artists participating in workshops collections include: Sofía Benavides, Carmela Braconi, Matías de la Guerra, Lucila Guerrero, Mónica Girón, Sonia Filadoro, Liana Lestard, Lulú Lobo, Milagros Mansilla, Antonio Panno, Lara Gimenez , Micaela Romero, Mailen Rivero, Camila Smart, María Villanueva, Theadora Ballantyne-Way, Ru Broadway, Prerna Chandiramani, Maria Galvez, Jennifer Gathercole, Ros Jarman, Josie Martin, Olivia Pratt , Alyn Smith, Zelda Velika , Verity Winslow, Jo Barnfield, Aoife Barrett, Leonie Bradley, Emma Brown, Angie Butler, Niamh Fahy, Lizzie Field, Kate Fraser, Ben Jenner, Jennifer Lewis, Emily Lucas, Robert Francis Martin, Laura Morgan and Gin Saunders.

“The World is a Handkerchief” was launched at the London Print Studio Gallery in June 2019, and will continue as a travelling exhibition in 2020. Venues include the Elizabeth Foundations for the Arts, NYC; Bonfiglioli Museum, Argentina and MMAG, Amman, Jordan. Alongside the exhibition, a community-based workshop has been developed, driven by the collaborative and nomadic nature of Mandrile and DeMontes’ art practice. The current exhibition includes works made at Zona Imaginaria Graphic Studios (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and the Centre for Fine Print Research, MA Multidisciplinary Printmaking Programme students (Bristol, UK).

The catalogue, published by Impact Press, Bristol, includes a foreword by Gill Saunders, Senior Curator of Prints at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Catalogues can be viewed online here.

Cecilia Mandrile | Claudia DeMonte
Instagram: @theworldisahandkerchief

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