Make Rugs Not War
September 18, 2008
As a result, as weavers encounter and incorporate cityscapes and photographic realism into their weaving, we see rugs depicting skyscrapers, billboards, and automobiles in 2-point perspective. As weavers meet and exchange traditional weaving methods in border camps, a rug’s craftsmanship becomes a mishmash of different localized techniques.
However what is perhaps most striking about these war rugs is the almost casual incorporation of modern war imagery into traditional rug patterning. Floral gardens are replaced by fields of weaponry. The rugs are bordered with accurate reproductions of tanks, helicopters, and anti-aircraft guns.
Allen’s own interest in collecting textiles was sparked when he saw an Afghan rug at a party in 1969. “One thing led to another,” and in 1975, he co-founded the Textiles Museum of Canada. Unlike other museums with substantial acquisition departments, the museum’s collection is largely made up of donated pieces. This includes the current exhibit, which Allen purchased in its entirety for the museum’s collection.
Battleground has provoked emotional reactions from visitors to the museum, ranging from awe to sadness. However, Allen himself sees the rugs not as an expression of emotion, but as communication.
“Television. Current affairs. A report of what’s going on. What’s going on is not pleasant.”
Join Max Allen for a curatorial tour of Battleground: Afghan war rugs on Wed September 24 at 6:30 pm.
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