The exhibition Hirafen, fosters a unique dialogue between contemporary art and traditional craftsmanship. Nineteen multidisciplinary artists were invited to create bespoke artworks inspired by Tunisian weaving and braiding expertise. During a research and production residency, those artists, from diverse origins and generations, explored the rich diversity of this craft, collaborating with embroiderers, weavers, braiders, and textile artisans. The exhibition is curated by Ludovic Delalande.
Participating artists: Majd Abdel Hamid, Joël Andrianomearisoa, Asma Ben Aissa, Meriem Bouderbala, Dora Dalila Cheffi, Binta Diaw, Jennifer Douzenel, Aïcha Filali, Mohamed Amine Hamouda, Sonia Kallel, Abdoulaye Konaté, Aymen Mbarki, Chalisée Naamani, Sara Ouhaddou, Zineb Sedira, Aïcha Snoussi, Moffat Takadiwa, Ali Tnani, Najah Zarbout
From the northern regions to the south, in cities and villages, in the public spaces of medinas, and within the intimacy of homes, men and women have perennially woven, embroidered, and braided natural fibres sourced from the surrounding landscape – be it natural wool, alfa, sea rush, palm leaves amongst other. These age-old gestures give rise to objects showcasing a wealth of materials, colours, and patterns, each mirroring diverse techniques and skills reflecting their regions’ specificities.
Within their distinctive artistic practices, each artist has developed a unique approach by delving into multiple dimensions, aesthetic, ecological, political, geographical, economic, and social—linked to an intangible heritage characterized by a non-linear history replete with influences, developments, and transformations.
Exploring the handicraft tradition has provided artists with a fertile ground for experimentation and allowed them to connect with the gesture of the hand, the act of creation and, more broadly, nature and history. To address new challenges, artisans have not hesitated to depart from their usual practices, embracing the necessary shift and asserting a continually renewed creativity.
Creating the opportunity for artists and artisans to engage in dialogue, pushing the boundaries of established domains, and raising questions about collaborative efforts in creating together is the common thread that unites the artworks presented here. As knowledge continues to be passed down and reinvented, gestures repeat endlessly to preserve a perpetually vibrant collective memory. All these are readily discernible in Hirafen, where the multiplicity of voices contributing to this exhibition expands the narrative.