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XTANT

The generosity of Story.

XTANT 2024 ‘Roots’ - a pilgrimage to Mallorca, Spain.

Photography and words by Anna Starmer.



Where to begin?

This is a story of entering into a community of artisans, skilled hand-crafters and fibre artists with a common language of making and cloth, of stitching and dyeing. Where the threads of elevated craft have woven together a global network of knowledge, discoveries, curiosity, dreaming and activism. I spent three days at XTANT, meeting weavers from Uruguay and mushroom pigment specialists from Spain, indigo masters from Gujarat and spinners and weavers from Italy and Africa.


“XTANT… a sense of kinship within a group of strangers… how familiar it felt.”

Adrian Pepe, artist.


I was invited to attend XTANT after chatting to curator and founder of this event Kavita Parmer. I knew little but had a strong instinct that this would be a place where I would belong – through a collective love of textiles and my continuous search for hopeful creative ideas. XTANT is a textile fair like no other; an exposition of heritage and indigenous crafts and a place of learning, sharing and education. This year over eighty makers from thirty countries were showcasing their one-off hand-crafted wares, I chatted to Ilse Crawford and Li Edelkoort, who called the event “a community where magic happens in unexpected ways.”


Artisanal anthropology by Supernaturae, and Llanatura


At Luminary we have often spoken of ‘making as medicine’ and we use the analogy of crafting – as a route to discovering hopeful possible solutions within the chaos of the modern world. Slow and mindful making is the perfect antidote to fast paced living. There is a growing desire to learn how to re-imagine ancient techniques, from weaving and spinning to natural dyeing, growing and foraging for plant fibres. And deep below the surface of all craft lies a rhizomic network of vibrant and collaborative systems, of education and sisterhood, of ancestry, regeneration and survival.


For millennia textiles and craft have been an unspoken language, the stitch is one of the most ancient and important forms of storytelling and connection – way older than written language. At XTANT I touched antique European textiles re-stitched in a New York studio with the stories of grandmother’s forgotten recipes, sweatshirts made in India and embellished with 16th Century Sanskrit symbols and Bogolan ‘totem’ cloth by AAAA from Mali embellished with tribal meanings which speak the language of the soul.

“Whoever writes, weaves. Text comes from the Latin, “textum” which means tissue. With strings of words we are saying, with strings of time we are living. Texts are like us: fabrics that walk.” 

Eduardo Galeano


Heidi Hankaniemi - New York, No Borders - India, Emma Cassi - Madrd


Colours connect us to the land and to our past. At XTANT we spoke of pigments extracted from the Earth in every corner of the globe, Giulia Ferraris works with ancient plants in Northeast Italy to dye hand-spun wool woven into blankets. Hansika Sharma, based in Ahmedabad, India has developed a connection with the colour Indigo as a colour of her soul, through her craft she seeks an 'ocean of calm' in the chaos of the world today. Or Maria Garcia's giant indigo dyed batik pieces, she works with ancient craft teachings and mystical symbology. I touched bright yellows extracted from fungi on Gran Canaria and Malian textile totems dyed with fermented African mud; colours of our memories, curated and collected to weave the story of place and belonging.


Indigo textiles by Hansika Sharma - India


At XTANT like-minded people gathered and shared stories, traded wares and exchanged secrets of their craft, like a medieval merchant’s market of future treasures. The gallery market took place in Palau Can Vivot, the last residential palace in Palma with heritage remnants from the XII and XV centuries. Workshops and conversations took us on a journey around the globe, and from the ancient past to the future. With emerging African fashion collectives Guzang; to recycled garments from Mexico City; to 'How are you feeling Studio' a husband and wife artist duo from Mumbai challenging the art of the Indian wedding.

 

Tot_Tot_Tot, Giuliana Macchiavello - Peru, How are you Feeling Studio - Mumbai India.


This modern era is forcing us all to rethink how we make, create and consume. Clothing and textiles have become a commodity, and a toxic system of extraction, pollution and environmental disasters. The origin and provenance of the cloth which daily we wrap our bodies in – has long since been forgotten. The Anthropocene is a terrifying age in which to live; and yet it could be the most exquisitely beautiful. Our generation has been gifted the dual possibilities of technological innovation with creative imagination. Through collaboration and sharing we can collectively redefine our future, and through making and mending we can stitch our broken Earth back together.

 

“Clothes have, they say, more important offices than merely to keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us… There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mold of arm or breast, but they mold our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.”

Virginia Woolf 

 

The common multi-crisis’ that we face globally are pulling us magnetically toward like-minded communities with shared beliefs. A curious collective longing for learning, listening and discovering draws us deeper into tribal communities. XTANT is a place for dreamers, for individuals working with a collective mindset of HOPE, a collection of brilliant humans working hard to envision beauty within this broken world. This is poetry, it is art for our future, it is dreamlike – for nobody knows where it may lead.


“Roots are the common threads that unite us and society needs to feel connected now more than ever.”

XTANT not only offers a platform to showcase the works of artisans and creatives, it embodies a much-needed future vision of possibilities and transformation. I spent three days at XTANT, and I returned to the studio inspired and energised, filled with hopeful stories of preservation and regeneration, linking human crafts with our precious Earth.

Thankyou for welcoming me to Can Vivot in Mallorca xxx


Totem textiles from Mali by AAAA Botanical dye wool by Atelier Vetra



 



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