"Quiet Resistance" – textile art by Kaiserring scholarship holder Hangama Amiri on display in the NEWCOMER KWS Art Lounge

Einbeck, February 27, 2024

Hangama Amiri's textile collages give us a glimpse into the everyday life of women in her native Afghanistan. The wall hangings show women sitting together in private interiors, in conversation, eating together. The private space is the only space in which the women are not under constant surveillance. Even if their heads are not visible through the cropped images in order to preserve anonymity and avoid identification, the colors and gestures suggest a cheerful mood – a stage for "Quiet Resistance", which is also the title of the exhibition by Goslar Kaiserring scholarship holder Hangama Amiri. It can be seen until April 13 at the NEWCOMER KWS Art Lounge on Tiedexer Straße in Einbeck.

The embroidered chiffons refer on the one hand to the domestic activity of sewing and on the other to a tradition that is passed down from generation to generation but is culturally ignored and often remains hidden. In the exhibition at NEWCOMER, the chiffons not only celebrate the women's craft, but also refer to the architecture of the gallery, entering into a dialog with it.

“With her exhibition, the artist empathetically points out social grievances of women, who, despite the restrictions on their freedoms and rights, will not be discouraged and create their own space for personal expression," said Dr. Felix Büchting, spokesman for the KWS Executive Board, at the vernissage. "Hangama Amiri creates textile collages that are unparalleled in their materiality and colorfulness. As a visitor, let yourself be enchanted by the intense variety of colors and fabrics of these special motifs, which tell their own stories."

The opulence of the textiles in Hangama Amiri's works, which are rich in haptic and color contrasts, is reminiscent of the abundance of fabrics in the artist's home country, Afghanistan: from cotton or denim to gabardine, damask, jacquard and jersey to chiffon, tulle, lace and silk, they exude a sensual radiance that no one can resist. And when she sews American denim and Afghani cloth together, Amiri symbolically brings West and East together.

Hangama Amiri, born in Pakistan in 1989, lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut/USA. She grew up in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan before immigrating to Canada with her parents in 2005. She studied in Halifax and at the Yale School of Art in New Haven, where she graduated in 2020 in the Department of Painting and Printmaking. At the exhibition opening, the artist was present via video message as she had to prepare two solo exhibitions in Rome and Toronto at the same time.

While studying for her master's degree at Yale, Hangama Amiri questioned whether a textile medium would not be better suited to expressing what is important to her in her art. Especially since fabrics and needles, like paper and drawing pencils, have been part of her life since childhood; before, she had worked with brushes and paints for many years. The artist sews colorful textiles together, sometimes placing layers of fabric on top of each other and using them to create nuanced light and shadow values that appear almost three-dimensional. Each work begins with a color sketch, which helps her to determine the composition of the fabric picture.

For art historian Michael Stoeber (Hanover), Hangama Amiri's series of pictures is "the kaleidoscope of an inner immigration". The private space left to the women for self-expression becomes a kind of silent protest, a "stage for quiet resistance", as the title of the exhibition puts it. The women's red-painted fingernails, clearly visible in several pictures, are, as it were, "a declaration for the self-expression and self-determination of women in Afghanistan and, at the same time, a protest against the restrictive laws of the Taliban regime regarding their freedom", explains the art historian.

Hangama Amiri received the Kaiserring Scholarship in Goslar in 2023. She is the eighth scholarship holder to bring her exhibition from Goslar to NEWCOMER in Einbeck, redesigning it there. The Goslar Kaiserring Scholarship has been awarded by the Association for the Promotion of Modern Art since 1984 and has been sponsored by the AKB Foundation in Einbeck since 2014.

The exhibition in the NEWCOMER KWS Art Lounge features six pieces of wall art. In addition, there are four chiffon works that the artist has never shown before. The patterns are painted with dye ink, some flowers and leaves are embroidered by hand. Sewing and embroidery go back to a domestic activity that has been passed down from mothers to daughters for generations. The transparent, slightly swinging fabrics act as a façade wall and enter into a dialog with the half-timbered architecture in the rooms of NEWCOMER.

The exhibitions of Hangama Amiri's works in Goslar and Einbeck are accompanied by a joint catalog, which is available at NEWCOMER.

The gallery is open on Wednesdays from 10 am to 1 pm, Fridays from 3 pm to 6 pm and Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm.

"Quiet Resistance" – Hangama Amiri

* All photos of the exhibition opening/vernissage were taken by Julia Lormis. Use of images: Use is permitted for editorial articles about KWS provided the source is acknowledged. Commercial distribution to third parties is not permitted. All works by Hangama Amiri Courtesy: Cooper Cole Gallery, Toronto.

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