Continue This Thread: Karim Adduchi x Tess van Zalinge, new exhibition on the power of crafting

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Continue This Thread: Karim Adduchi x Tess van Zalinge, new exhibition on the power of crafting
Detail of band sampler by Christina Finke (1885–1962), 1903. Collection: Amsterdam Museum.

AMSTERDAM.- Dresses completely fabricated from Moroccan embroidery appliqué and patchwork couture from upcycled designer fabrics. Amsterdam-based fashion designers Karim Adduchi and Tess van Zalinge have garnered a reputation in recent years with designs inspired by historical and regional crafting techniques. With sustainable collections such as ‘natuurlijk’ (Van Zalinge 2022) and community projects like Social [Distancing] Fabric, both fashion designers offer more sustainable and innovative visions in the field of craft, design, and co-creation. Together with Adduchi and Van Zalinge as guest curators, the Amsterdam Museum presents a brand-new exhibition: Continue This Thread. Karim Adduchi x Tess van Zalinge, on display since Friday, February 17 to Sunday, September 3, 2023, at the Amsterdam Museum on the Amstel.

Continue This Thread is a presentation about the power of crafting as interpreted through more than a hundred textile objects. Adduchi and Van Zalinge collaborated with the Amsterdam Museum's Curator of Fashion and Popular Culture, Roberto Luis Martins, and show visitors how they use craft techniques themselves. The exhibition connects (historical) objects from the Amsterdam Museum's collection with intriguing creations by Adduchi and Van Zalinge. The exhibition also provides a stage for various designers from the city who apply handwork techniques in innovative ways.

A new take on age-old techniques
Embroidery, patchwork, and knitting are timeless techniques from which many people draw strength – in times of conflict, of mourning, of resistance, but also in moments of joy. Using crafting techniques has brought people together for centuries and offers tools for expressing and processing emotions. Yet the knowledge behind many techniques, such as bobbin lace and darning, is at risk of being lost. How can this traditional knowledge be transferred and inspire us (anew) to connect, express, and heal? Continue This Thread, is an invitation by Adduchi and Van Zalinge for visitors to get inspired by classic crafting techniques.

Van Zalinge: “During our first visit to the Amsterdam Museum’s storage facility, Karim and I ‘happened’ to find an accordion-shaped folder containing 97 crafting proofs dates from the late nineteenth century. Aside from that the maker was one Miss Rochemont, very little else was known about it. Why did she make this? Why did she choose these techniques? How long did it take her? Did she pursue fashion afterward? It inspired us to put a spotlight on the faces and stories behind crafts and seek stories from then – and now.”

“Continue this thread means to grab the thread and ‘embroider away’!’” adds Karim Adduchi in response to his co- curator. “From the experience with our own work, the practice of crafting connects people; it can be used to express a message, for activism, and holds a healing power. Which is what we wish to convey to the public through this exhibition. We want to introduce diverse target groups, young and old, to fresh perspectives on handicrafts and encourage visitors to (re)discover and engage in crafting techniques.”

The healing, connecting, activating power of craft
The main theme across the exhibition’s first three rooms are the voices behind textile works. Grounded in pieces by Adduchi and Van Zalinge, the visitor becomes acquainted with the designers’ manner of working and thinking.
Adduchi’s Freedom Dress is on display, along with Van Zalinge’s various looks from her recently launched ‘natuurlijk’ collection. Visitors are able to view and study the techniques used by the designers up close, both with a magnifying glass and digitally. They can then dive into the stories behind the subject matter. Who are the makers of the age-old brands, patches, and samplers from the Amsterdam Museum’s collection? And what stories from contemporary Amsterdam are connected? Next, the exhibition shows how communities and clubs spring from a need to come together through needle and thread. Here, the connective power of crafting is the focus. Featured is the Social [Distancing] Fabric, a collective embroidery produced by Adduchi and The World Makers together with roughly two hundred participants in response to the Covid-19 lockdown of March 2020.

The next few rooms concentrate on the activating power that crafting techniques can offer, whether it is expressing political views as a form of resistance or finding comfort, peace, and strength in times of hardship. Historical and

contemporary fashions, banners, and textiles show how traditional techniques can be translated into hopes for societal change. Featured are an embroidered banner made by the Association for Women’s Suffrage at the beginning of the last century and a knitted doll which the maker uses to tell a poignant story from a prison in Tehran, Iran.

Progressing through the Continue This Thread exhibition, visitors soon find themselves immersed in a “healing space” where the healing power of crafting is highlighted. On display are three bedspreads made by relatives of the exhibition’s creators. Luis Martins: “Because we wish and hope that visitors will find connections with one another in the exhibition, I believe it is important to share something about myself. My mother finished this bedspread after my father passed away. It helped her to heal.” Inspired by the sounds of crafting, the Amsterdam-based performer and artist OTION (Guillermo Blinker, 1987) created a sound installation ‘Woven Song’ (2023) especially for this space through which he explores their healing power.

Old knowledge, modern perspectives
The exhibition’s final areas focus on the applicability of crafting techniques. Van Zalinge and Adduchi demonstrate how they have mastered this traditional knowledge. Van Zalinge gained inspiration from the patchwork children’s liberation skirt in the collection of the Amsterdam Museum and incorporated this into her Patchwork 2020 collection and other pieces.

At the exhibition’s conclusion, the visitor explores the Modemuze Lab which was creation in collaboration with the fashion network Modemuze. Worldwide, the traditional knowledge and skills required to create and appreciate clothing are disappearing – techniques such as embroidery, darning, and starching. How can we ensure that age-old techniques are rendered more accessible and can be passed on to future generations? How might digital techniques such as 3D scanning or 360 photography help? In this space, visitors are invited to reflect on this historical knowledge and craft with the future in mind.

Get hooked (up)
An exhibition about crafting would be incomplete without the opportunity for people to get hands-on. Part of the exhibition is therefore left deliberately unfinished and visitors are invited to join in the fun. The “Leave a Leaf” space is where visitors can add their own embroidered, knitted, or crocheted leaf to a collective textile installation. The item they craft may also be taken home.

The Amsterdam Museum also offers workshops as part of the exhibition. Visitors to the museum as well as the wider public will play an active role in the participatory education and public program developed for Continue This Thread.

The exhibition design for Continue This Thread at the Amsterdam Museum on the Amstel was contributed by a young talent in the architectural field Quita Schabracq, under the guidance of Studio L A. As a freelance architect, she has provided design, drawing, and construction oversight for different art fairs, including TEFAF Maastricht, TEFAF New York, Art Basel Miami, and Art Basel Hong Kong.

Karim Adduchi
Listed in the Forbes “30 under 30” Europe and Middle East, winner of the Amsterdam Culture Business Award for social contributions to the city of Amsterdam and winner of the second prize for the prestigious Vogue Fashion Award for Arab talent in 2021, Karim Adduchi has been making waves in the fashion world in recent years. A common theme in his creations is the translation of traditional techniques from his native Morocco into couture. Foremost in this are the encounters and connections he develops with communities or young makers of traditional crafts, from co-creations with makers who have been displaced from their homeland to the global network he activated through Social [Distancing] Fabric at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. For Adduchi the arts are a reason for togetherness and community connections in a disconnected society.

Besides his presentation at Maison Amsterdam, Adduchi has previously collaborated with the Amsterdam Museum. Teaming up with The World Makers, he presented Social [Distancing] Fabric in the courtyard of the Amsterdam Museum in 2021 and was one of the featured designers at the fashion exhibition Fashion Statements (2019).

Tess van Zalinge
Through her collaborations with the World Wildlife Fund and Meesteropleiding Coupeur, Tess van Zalinge demonstrates her interest in reviving and celebrating historical heritage and transforming this into sustainable designs. She gains inspiration from traditional knowledge about regional costumes or techniques such as patchworking, which she translates into modernistic designs.

Van Zalinge recently presented her latest ‘natuurlijk’ collection at Amsterdam Art Week 2022, interposed with artworks from the Amsterdam Museum. This collection reflects how she became fascinated by the recognizability and changeability inherent in nature. In connection with this, Van Zalinge and the Amsterdam Museum organized the kick- off of “Co-Lab”, an event where visitors are invited to try their hand at needlework.

Amsterdam Museum fashion collection
From 18th-century robes à la française and a children’s outfit worn in the anti-authoritarian Kresj to the collections of Fong Leng and Puck & Hans and distinctive creations by Bas Kosters and Mohamed Benchellal, the Amsterdam Museum keeps a versatile fashion and textile collection comprising approximately 10,000 objects. While the museum endeavors to show its fashion collection as often as possible, textiles are extremely fragile, which limits how much they can be exhibited. One such show occurred in 2017, when the museum put together the exhibition Puck & Hans: Couture Locale with Hans Kemmink, who recently passed away, and his wife Puck. In this first retrospective of the fashion pioneers, an overview was created based on their designs from the Amsterdam Museum’s collection along with others from an array of private collections.

In 2019 the Amsterdam
Museum presented an extensive exhibition on fashion entitled Fashion Statements. It featured more than 75 historical costumes, each of which was used by its wearer for self-expression or to convey a message. Six contemporary designers – Marga Weimans, Patta, Ninamounah, Art Comes First, Bas Kosters, and Karim Adduchi
– looked with a contemporary eye at highlights from the Amsterdam Museum’s costume collection and presented their own modern designs.

In 2021 the Amsterdam Museum held another fashion exhibition, Maison Amsterdam, together with De Nieuwe Kerk. More than 70 gems from the costume collection of the Amsterdam Museum were shown. Leading makers also contributed their perspectives and insights on the museum’s fashion collection to the exhibition. The exhibition led to two additions to the Amsterdam Museum’s collection: an ensemble by Zalinge with a contemporary interpretation of the patchwork technique and Adduchi’s Freedom Dress.

The exhibition ‘Continue This Thread. Karim Adduchi x Tess van Zalinge’ opened on February 17 and will continue through September 3, 2023 at the Amsterdam Museum on the Amstel (Amstel 51) and is made possible in part by Creative Industries Fund NL, P.W. Janssen’s Friesche Stichting and an anonymous private benefactor. It includes loans from private individuals as well as the collections of the Kunstmuseum Den Haag, Rijksmuseum, Iranian Women’s Movement Museum, National Museum of World Cultures, and Resistance Museum Amsterdam. The Amsterdam Museum receives support from the Municipality of Amsterdam and the VriendenLoterij.

The Amsterdam Museum is part of the Modemuze network. Collaboration between the network’s various members focuses on exchanging knowledge via and the provision of jewelry, fashion, costume, and regional dress collections in the Netherlands and Belgium. 'Unlocking Fashion Heritage' is one of the research projects on craft techniques brought about from Modemuze, courtesy of Gieskes-Strijbis Fund, Mondriaan Fonds and Innovationlabs.

Since March 2022 and for the coming years, due to renovations the Amsterdam Museum is housed with Hermitage Amsterdam and Museum van de Geest at Amstel 51. There the Amsterdam Museum offers a permanent collection presentation and a changing exhibition program.

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