I don’t understand a thing about space

I don’t understand a thing about space

at LOU Oudenoord, in Utrecht

Original Dutch title: Ik snap er niks van ruimte [text in Dutch]

The installation ‘I don’t understand a thing about space’ looks at space in connection to time, the specific time that people have (or should have) for themselves and in which they can be themselves. In this space the functional duties (work, money, competencies, social status) are explicitly left out, to prevent them from crawling in and overtaking everything.  This free space where real thoughts can be deployed, leaves space for doubt which then generates new thoughts. In this context the expression ‘I don’t understand a thing’ is a depiction of space. The presented work is made of three pieces arranged as podium curtains; the central piece carries the concept sentence. The textile works at the front are fully hand-made of embroidered and sewn pieces. There is abstract imagery to be seen as well as suggestions of costumes; nothing is complete nor perfect. They are open and offer space for reflection.

The installation is part of the project ‘ik-snap-er-niks-van’ (meaning ‘I don’t understand a thing’) that came to life end 2017 in the form of a web shop. In the design, the concept sentence is given in Greek letters and also entails the head of an astronaut. The design plays with the notion of identity, the communication between people, and the philosophical idea that what we can really know is that we know nothing (see also Socrates).

Measurements: approximately 200x200x50 cm

Materials used: textile; embroidered, sewn, cut, painted.

Artist: S.Kapnissi [Instagram @kapnissi.art]


The group exhibition EIGEN DOMEIN/OWN DOMAIN is curated and organised by the artist Maria Makridis in collaboration with the creative space LOU Oudenoord.

EIGEN DOMEIN uitnodiging.jpg

How do people divide their space? This question is the starting point of the exhibition EIGEN DOMEIN / OWN DOMAIN. Public and private spaces are continuously shaped for the needs of humans, while it seems more and more difficult to fulfill these needs; as it shows on our environment. Does the sense of space still exist, now that it becomes more artificial than ever? And how do humans relate to it?

Opening: Saturday 19 February 15:00-21:00

Open: Daily 20-27 February 12:00-17:00

Address: LOU Oudenoord, entrance on the right

Oudenoord 330

3513 EX Utrecht


ik-snap-er-niks-van ruimte at LOU Oudenoord-Utrecht, with Sofia Kapnissi, February 2022

Textiles in documenta 14

Textiles in documenta 14

It is all about the story. That is the story of documenta 14. Textile is there in this frame just like all the other exhibits. The focus points immigration-democracy-disparity must be present even when talking about reindeers or indigo dye. The work is not what you see; the story is. In this sense, textile works have taken an equal place next to the other works of art: that of incidences of non-importance as such, but rather means of illustration of the general concept.

Further, the included textile works are a sample of the tolerable:
naïve with a story of meaning, high aesthetics with a story of meaning (hanged up high as well), size related with a story of meaning (size is imposing no matter what it is for the rest), memorabilia. The latter is covered in the case of textiles through the show of costumes or ordinary clothes, exhibited amongst other objects and photos. Memorabilia carry anyway a tamed sentimentalism, always attached to a story and within the agreed contextual history. Within the frame of documenta, all that is translated into conceptual folklore (because folklore as such is related to colonialism and that is not tolerable).

If you don’t understand, it is because the show is for those who recognise the structure, exhaustively repeated from one contemporary show to the next. As general rule, this is to be kept: a work can be anything as long as it is not what it is. In short, there is no work, there is only a concept containing variables (variable: a symbol that can represent different values).

P.S. 1 It goes further to the notion of art as social science or any science, and the accomplished move of institutionalisation of art (fitting in the programmes of government-fed or otherwise-fed bodies like museums and academic institutions).

P.S. 2 Putting aside how limiting that is, it is debatable whether documenta 14 is on this side or the other (because it does take sides). And, yes, there is such a thing as ‘over-institutionalisation’; this comes from a very interesting piece of writing: “‘Over-institutionalisation’ might therefore suggest that of all the countless individual activities that contribute, day by day, to this contemporary art world, the typical and predominant kind is shaped, whether we know it or not, by those policy goals based on standards, access, and the national interest. On the other hand, however, there are different kinds of activity, based on different values and interests.” By Michael Ascroft, ‘Contemporary art and over-institutionalisation’, Un Magazine 6.1, online: http://unprojects.org.au/magazine/issues/issue-6-1/contemporary-art-and-over-institutionalisation/


Lower photos: Right, Quipu gut by Cecilia Vicuna; Left, Fundi (meaning ‘uprising’ ) by Aboukabar Fofana.

Top photos: Historia by Britta Marakatt-Labba, see text here:

Kassel2017 083

8th International Fiber Art Biennale

8th International Fiber Art Biennale

among fibres is a blog by textile artist Raija Jokinen exhibiting in Nantong too; I think we will be exchanging information!

Raija Jokinen

8th International Fiber Art Biennale is opened in Nantong, China, and will be open until October 16., 2014.
The exhibition was juried from 655 works of art and 186 pieces are exhibited in 1895 creative cultural industry park. Among  selected works is also my piece called “A Devil”.
Before receiving images from the 8th biennale you can check out some views of the previous exhibition from https://kapnissi.wordpress.com


By the way, also 2014 Nantong International Contemporary Craft Biennale is taking place in the same venue at 24 October to 23 November, 2014, http://www.nticb.com/english/index.html.
Karoliina Arvilommi‘s piece from Finland is among 122 works selected to exhibit.

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From Lausanne to Beijing – 8th International Fiber Art Biennale

September 30—December 16, 2014 
From Lausanne to Beijing 8th International Fiber Art Biennale 
1895 creative cultural industry park
Nantong (Jiangsu Province)

The works are already hanging, the organisers are making the last arrangements for the official opening today, 30 September at 3:00 p.m. East China time (about 9:00 a.m. CET). I won’t be there this time; will have to wait patiently for news from co-exhibitors and the catalogue after the end of the exhibition together with the return my works. The exhibition is of course  certain to be big again, but not exhausting I must say. The former factory where it is held is something like the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam or the Technopolis-Gazi in Athens.

But here is a part of the forward from the organisers*:

“…Since 2000, “From Lausanne to Beijing” international fiber art exhibition has been held for 7 sessions which has come through 14 years. It has gradually become an international well-known brand with a development pattern of popularization, socialization and internationalization…

…There are 655 pieces of artwork applying for the 8th  Biennale (including 363 works from China and  292 works from other countries).  186 pieces of artwork were admitted into the ‘From Lausanne to Beijing’ 8th International Fiber Art Biennale Exhibition(including 75 works form China and  111 works from other countries. In 2014, with the invitation of the Nantong government, the 8th biennale will still be held in 1895 creative cultural industry park in Nantong City…”

I volunteer for tele-transportation! (…have been volunteering since the 80’s in vain…)

Patience promotes!

* organization: Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University People’s government of Nantong Fiber Art Committee, China Arts & Crafts Association Fiber art institute of China National Academy of Painting

The photos are from the previous edition of the Biennale; once I have new photos or news I will publish them as well.



Nantong_2012_main hall entrance view
Nantong_2012_main hall entrance view

detail of a stupendous embroidered work by Chang YoungRan from Korea
detail of a stupendous embroidered work by Chang YoungRan from Korea

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Textile in art – The Hague

 Analog 2014 Textiel Festival
6-26 September in The Hague

There is one day left to visit this textile festival, easily accessible in the centre of The Hague. So, Friday morning and luckily also in the evening during the wider cultural event called Hoogtij; a round  to exhibitions outside the normal opening hours. I would say, do take the offer; Analog is a show made by the art and design workers themselves; so, happily not a curator’s dream.

At the Grafische Werkplaats most probably you will be amongst people working on their silk-screens and etches; at Gemak you will be challenged with more sophisticated options; take it or leave it, as always. I found most interesting the heat sensitive fabrics at Interieurwinkel Edwin Pelser and the down to earth with a flair of light sensitivity works presented at HOOPwarenhuis. The images below come from this presentation. Enjoy!

"YUMI" by Christa van der Meer
“YUMI” by Christa van der Meer

"Denim Days-Sleepless Nights" by Studio Codex
“Denim Days-Sleepless Nights” by Studio Codex

...by Joshua Enker
fashion by Joshua Enker

"SCAPES trials" by Ilse Versluijs
“SCAPES trials” by Ilse Versluijs

... by Hector & Wolf
fabrics by Hector & Wolf

"Downtown dress up"  by Daniela Larue
“Downtown dress up” by Daniela Larue

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textile as art – mama’s arts

Regarding the Symposium during the 7th “from Lausanne to Beijing” Fiber Art Biennale: two panel discussions with fiber art experts from China, Korea, Japan, Australia, US and Poland. I had expected presentations from countries with images and information about the practice, something more like a conference, but hey, let’s get the best of what is offered. The discussions went about changes in the textile art practice including the spreading uniformity concept wise, decrease of the sizes of the works, incorporation of other materials and methods and a unanimous observation that visual artists have stepped well on board of the textile world.

I don’t know how much this is news, since I come from the fine arts field. I did realize though that by textile art they mainly meant until recently weaving or fabric dying/making without (or rather not) excluding functional pieces. In the same concept, moving away from tapestry is accepted with a question/ exclamation mark. Whereas in our own first attempt to show textile art under the “geborgen kamers” project, the direction chosen was clearly away from functionality; only pure art pieces  were shown at “mama’s arts” exhibition back in 2008. Then, it was a burning idea that created the show; now, having seen quite a few big textile art shows and with the recent experience in Nantong, I want to thank again the artists of “mama’s arts”. It was a top exhibition; some of the artists are well known, some I see in exhibitions around the world, some through social media; some I have lost but hope to work with them again. An idea is starting sparkling, but now we have to find the space too. The old pharmacy and old butchery at the outskirts of The Hague were given to commercial users sometime at the beginning of 2012.

P.S. The printable version of the “mama’s arts” catalogue was lost in a laptop crash. The few copies printed then are actually collector’s items. Luckily, the e-version survived and is downloadable: mama’s arts catalogue e-version

mama's arts opening
mama’s arts opening

mama's arts - in the butchery
mama’s arts – in the butchery

mama's arts - butchery freezer
mama’s arts – butchery freezer

mama's arts - in the pharmacy
mama’s arts – in the pharmacy

mama's arts - book corner
mama’s arts – book corner

























































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Grandma and the Aunts*

At the beginning of the 70’s, in the centre of Athens, you could still park your car at the side of the street without a worry. You greeted your neighbours by their names and the shopkeepers would bring the groceries at home when needed; kyr-Yannis brought the vegetables, kyr-Dionysis the meat. The ‘nouveautées’ store ‘Miranda’ under our apartment had nearly all the rest; supermarkets did not exist yet. On the contrary, families still existed in their wider form and everyone had their function therein. Giagia (grandma) Aphroditi the Athenean, as the eldest member of our household had the sceptres of the kitchen. But, very often, more elderly women, aunt Thália, aunt Efrosyni, or even giagia Elpiniki from Ioannina, would enter the kitchen with rolled up sleeves and a recipe in the hand. They would make all kinds of pitas and cakes, each one giving them an own taste and shape. The talent and the drive of these women would not stop there. Cooking was only one of their talents; their craftwork was another one. Their hands were constantly busy with mixing ingredients or with arranging threads. As a kid, I could not perceive the point of all this commotion. In brief, who needed all these embroideries, crochets, bedcovers, tablecloths, and all the smaller or bigger decorated textile? Much later, when my busy aunts were long departed, I found myself in possession of a few handmade pieces which became the most valuable part of my household. In each handmade piece you can always see the personality of the maker; even more when you personally knew them and you have witnessed the process for years.

My mother, Athiná, was also a keen craftswoman. Although she had a job as a book keeper and her repertoire in the kitchen was suppressed under the dominance of grandma and the aunts, she found the time to produce a remarkable volume of textile, all handmade and perfect to the detail. The handworks of her generation mark the end of the tradition of homemade textiles; at least in Athens. The enormous changes in the daily life, in the family bonds and in the expectations of the people of the end of the 80’s and after, limited seriously the available time for concentrating on a complicated textile work or for making a complete meal for that matters. For me, skipping to the following era with our devises and electronic contacts, I felt like pushing a break when I started experimenting with textile. I would never be able to follow a pattern like my aunts did, but as a painter, I envision textiles produced with the experience of painting. I make expressionistic drawings on embroidery. In fact, I draw directly with threads on the woven material. Although my embroideries, as mirror picture of our turbulent times, carry the thread of uneasiness, the medium itself keeps the essence of a timeless moment, the room for uninterrupted thinking, and in the same time the continuity of an activity that passed from aunt to aunt.  Now I am part of  the process that I once witnessed and this ties me with the ideal big family of my childhood thoughts; moreover it weaves in my roots the idea of an artistic production without commercial goal and thus beyond price.

* A slightly different version of this text was published in the Dutch language magazine “Lychnari” no1-2011, under the title “De bezige tantes” (the busy aunts); it was accompanying a recipe for kolokythópita.