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NS Harsha: Nations

Unstitched: in conversation

08 Oct 2009

Chaired by Christine Checinska, this discussion explores cloth as economic product & cloth as communication

A recording of this discussion is available in the Stuart Hall Library.

Unstitched is chaired by Dr Christine Checinska and responds to NS Harsha’s Nations exhibition.

The economics and the semiotics of cloth unite with powerful effect in NS Harsha’s Nations. Mimicking the regimental rows of industrial machinery that typify the production lines found in Asian sweatshops, as they churn out cheap garments to meet the insatiable demands of the rag trade, Nations consists of 192 “Butterfly” treadle machines draped in the flags of different nations.  Each machine is connected to the next by a web of multicoloured loose threads.

In response to NS Harsha’s Nations, Professor Janis Jefferies and Professor Angela McRobbie explore the wider issues around migration, the use of cheap labour by the West’s garment industry, the marginalisation of individual freedom within the global market economy, the use of cloth as a cultural symbol and political tool, and the “romance” of unity through difference.

Dr Christine Checinska completed her PhD at the Centre for Cultural Studies/Constance Howard Resource and Research Centre for Textiles, Goldsmiths, University of London in 2009. Her research interests include material culture and its relationship to personal, social and cultural histories, dress in the migratory moment, and the subsequent exchanges/changes that occur as cultures collide, co-exist and coalesce. Checinska chaired the Second Skins symposium presented by Iniva at Rivington Place in 2009.

Angela McRobbie is Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths University of London.  Her research since 2000 has concentrated on three fields of specialism; gender and feminist theory and cultural studies, ‘precarious labour’ in art worlds and in the new culture industries. In her forthcoming projects, further attention will be given to urban cultural studies as context for changing world of work.

Janis Jefferies is an artist, writer and curator, Professor of Visual Arts in the Department of Computing, Goldsmiths University of London, Director of the Constance Howard Resource and Research Centre in Textiles and Artistic Director of Goldsmiths Digital Studios. Jefferies trained as a painter and later pioneered the field of contemporary textiles within the visual and material culture.