Date of this Version
Published in The Social Fabric: Deep Local to Pan Global; Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 16th Biennial Symposium. Presented at Vancouver, BC, Canada; September 19 – 23, 2018. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
In Chiapas, Mexico textiles live in different institutions from the market to the museum. In these spaces tourists, art professionals, and weavers manifest their varying perspectives of the authenticity of textiles. I examine the construction of authenticity through these spaces. In the museum, textiles become authentic because they represent a vision of an idyllic past. The authenticity created by the market is entangled in the acts of production by weaving cooperatives and consumption by tourists. Weavers see their work in intertwined thread with identity, culture, art, and economic necessity. Tourists often fetishize the handmade and cultural ties of the objects, making the buyable textiles or artesanias as romanticized version of the lived experience of weavers. I intend to unveil romanticized views of weaving cooperatives by taking a closer look at the global connections of the local cooperatives. I unravel the categories of textiles as commodity, folk art, or art to show that these boundaries are wrapped up in stereotypical views of indigenous women. These stereotypes become evident in the social relationships between weavers and middlemen to the market, such as designers, NGOs, and researchers. Some of these relationships show ways in which artistic appreciation may become exploitative once it enters into a market. Others, however, foster a great sense of collaboration and solidarity. Thinking of textiles through visual affect can foster a better sense of collaboration. Affect may include changes in technologies and technique, but more importantly, the deep phenomenological qualities. The affect of art allows it to perform a specific role within the milieu in which it exists. Such a view turns the focus away from the object and towards the process and people involved. The role of the textile may then move from a representation of a culture to an object that may ignite future social change.