Stitch by Stitch is an exploration by a Bengaluru quintet that collectivised over our shared longing for the kaudhi. In coming together, we collected many kaudhis, stories, photographs, and experiences that brought us closer to the material and its makers. In the process, some threads were unraveled about ourselves as collectors. As you walk through the exhibits, we invite you to reflect about us and with us - what might we uncover about our yearning for material objects such as the kaudhi ?
We collectors are adept at travel and enquiry and have the technologies to traverse and dig. We use all our excavating tools to parse contexts. There is much laughter and joy in our journeys as we allow ourselves to be nurtured by people and places - good food, warmth, and stories. The touch of fabric tugs on the inside and we know not what we can do but travel and excavate, covet and collect, represent and broadcast through our exhibits.
In this apparatus of practices, can we also experience the metaphors we encounter in the material and its making? There seems to be something constantly alive in the kaudhi. “It is the layers that I like,” we said almost at the same time. Layers of cloth, layers of stitches, layers of time.. .through the exhibits, we share the layers/metaphors we became acquainted with…. The layer that touched us the most is the daily practices of kaudhi making and its nuances.. the simple stitch that creates its nunupu, softness…
When we covet something, it becomes special. This act of making special pushes us to look for the unique in all conversations with the makers… but much of what we encountered were acts of making that were seamlessly woven into the currents of homes, and daily discretion of the makers….“In those days what was waste ? There was no waste. Waste was not a category” shared one of the makers who now lives in Bengaluru. We wondered: only when we make special, is there waste ? When materials are embedded in context, is there no waste ? Only when alienated is there longing? When embedded, do we come alive ?
We all experience different measures of rootedness and alienation in different aspects of our lives, and the meanings we give to material objects arise from these meters. In our journeys of searching and expression, materials transport and hold meanings for us, and provide an arena for interpretation and feeling. Material objects such as the kaudhi are our commons so long as we honour the threads that hold us together. When we see and savour, can we see the outside, along with our interior landscape ? Kaudhi hathidahaage - just like the stains on the kaudhi.
- Muthatha Ramanathan