Ghosts Speaking to Me Under Electric Lights

Over the years I have become increasingly fixated on fabrics, especially those preceding the 17th century and the ancient eras. When visiting fabric museums, I often wonder how the early textile artists made such exquisite pieces without electricity. It is apparently now impossible to remake 8th century Japanese fabrics, even if we were to use the latest technology, because the techniques have since been lost.

When I am in the museums, I feel ghosts speaking to me. They are the ghosts behind the fabric: royalty and rulers, workshop managers, designers, thread dyers and weavers. They speak of hierarchies and processes, of wealth and strict working conditions. In these times, rulers aimed to display their power with the best techniques and the newest patterns. The greater the display of wealth, however, the more we could feel the rulers’ fear of losing power and control of their workers.

I am interested in loosening up these invisible narratives to unravel forgotten histories or discover new plotlines. Pervading my creative processes are techniques and rules that I have developed over time: untying and unwinding fabric, revealing its structure, juxtaposing time and place, to name but a few. I do not cut or paste, or add or subtract matter. By unravelling and recomposing the structures and stories hidden within the material, I try to capture overflowing time and the continuous process of metamorphosis.

When I hear the ghosts of the fabric whispering within me, I feel like I could disappear and be consumed by the great whirl. It is an ambivalent feeling that consists of both fear and the pleasure of my ego melting away. Inevitably, I must return to the present day in my studio and continue to think about what to create with my hands under electric lights.

Aiko Tezuka
Berlin, January 2013