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

‘From Lausanne To Beijing’ 9th International Fiber Art Biennale

‘From Lausanne To Beijing’ 9th International Fiber Art Biennale

While I was drafting in my mind posts about historians who love to tell stories, and families who loved printing books, and poets who were actually earning money, all somewhere in the far past, the message from the organizers of the 9th International Fiber Art Biennale ‘From Lausanne To Beijing’ arrived. My submission has been honoured; four works belonging to the series ‘continents’ will be part of this fantastic exhibition. This is part of the announcement:

“221 excellent artworks (104 from China and 117 from overseas), which make approx 23% of the entire entry, are juried in for display at the upcoming Exhibition. (入选作品221件(中国104件,国外117件),总入选率约为23%)”

It is the third time that I participate with my textile works in this biennale. The first time, in 2012, I took the trip too, to Nantong, some hundred kilometers from Shanghai. It was a bliss to see the exhibition, but also to be treated with real honour and abundant hospitality. Of course meeting so many artists busy with textile was also a mind opener. This time the exhibition will take place in Shenzhen, a dreamtime modern city. It is close to Hong Kong; does this make the trip easier, I wonder. Anyhow, I am tempted to go, but then I need to find a sponsor very soon.

In the meantime, I will pack and send the works within the coming days. Updates will be coming here and on Atelier Kapnos fb page.





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

Did you like this article?
Come aboard! Subscribe to receive the latest articles, freshly published, by just entering your email address in the subscribe box; go now to the main page and join!

the 7th “From Lausanne to Beijing” Fiber Art Biennale, Nantong, China

After a good night sleep I stood up ready to attend the day’s main event. The opening of the exhibition took place at 10 am with girls in costumes, drums, speeches, pyros and balloons. Nantong, being a city of textile industry of long tradition, has passed to its people and apparently to China’s conscience a certain respect for fiber works and fiber art as extension. The idea that fiber art is a form that comes from the people and therefore people can understand and associate themselves with it was not only sensed but also proclaimed aloud and with conviction. Yet, I did not expect it to be such a highly appreciated event. The ceremony of course was bathed with importance but the exhibition itself is the actual festivity; it is filled with inspiration reflecting it back at every step. If you are around do not miss it. The area of the venue is also interesting, making the after taste of the day somehow edgy; at one side the pyros and at the other side people standing outside the gate getting a glimpse of the festivities of others.
This is the address: “1895” Cultural and Creative Industrial Park, 18#, West Street, Gangzha District, Nantong City, Jiangsu Province.
I am publishing here a few photographs of the exhibition without names of the artists nor titles and materials used (added on 18 Nov.), as I do not have the catalogue in my hands yet to be able to be precise. Tomorrow, since we are supposed to be there for the seminar and other activities I hope to get the catalogue and finish my tour in the actual show which today proved to be squeezed in a very tight programme. The last visit today was at the new Museum of the City of Nantong a fabulous building of human dimensions made of white marble and black stone. The word of the day (continuing reading the book China in Ten Words by Yu Hua): “Disparity”

see images at http://www.chinafiberart.com.cn/news1.asp?Id=223

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Going to China

7th International “From Lausanne to Beijing” Fiber Art Biennale Exhibition

Nantong City, Jiangsu Province, China

8 November to 15 December 2012

Through a very difficult time, that I considered “lost period” for my work, came out a few art pieces that I would keep. One of them is selected for this exhibition in China, where I am invited to attend the opening and the symposium that follows the next day. Half of the participants are Chinese, the rest from all over the world. I am already moved from the kindness of the organizers and the care they show to their exhibitors by being well on time with the documents and the information they need to provide. I am so looking forward to see the exhibition and meet these amazing textile artists…but first have to work on the travel…

“The power of leaves”, embroidery, 2012

VI International Biennial of Textile Art – Mexico 2011

VI International Biennial of Textile Art – Mexico 2011

Theme: AIRE (air)

I am participating with one embroidered piece at the Salon of small format works. The title of the piece is “air bubbles”: air entrapped in a water shell becomes visible, however in a fleeting time. In the fascinating shapes of air bubbles we can actually see time moments and the constant change they entail.

Salon of small format works:
16 May 2011 to 22 July 2011
Galería Alva de la Canal
Xalapa (Veracruz)

There are five different Salons being exhibited in three cities in Mexico: Xalapa (Veracruz), Mexico City, and Oaxaca. The exhibits will run from May through July; there was also an international conference held in Xalapa from May 16 – May 19. Workshops and lectures will be held in May and June in both Mexico City and Oaxaca. I am looking forward to seeing the updates on the website and of course the catalogue.


"air bubbles" detail, full size: 15x15cm, 2010

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.