LOOM | FATHER | REQUIEM: The Concept of the Exhibit
LOOM | FATHER | REQUIEM
by Roni Ben Ari
“You know, I sold the replacement parts for his looms to your father”.
This remark gave me the idea of weaving an old-new fabric from my stored memories.
The sounds of the looms, the scents of oils lubricating the machines, the dust…. They all became the memories of my childhood—the memories of my father’s textile factory. I still remember how he would bend over a loom that got stuck, fixing it stubbornly until it re-started.
“It is OK now”,he would call out loud to overcome the noise of the roaring looms. Then he would wash his hands with a special alcohol and pat the machine as if caressing a beloved child.
Dad would walk with great confidence along the avenue of his looms, and I would walk behind him listening to the noisy unharmonious chanting of the machines.In my imagination, the machines became a choir learning to perform to the tune of the looms’ flying shuttles that acted as a metronome in the background. I distinctly remember how I used to stand there hypnotized, observing the pattern of the fabric as it rolled out.
I found the orphaned parts of a textile machine in an attic of a house in an old neighborhood in Tel Aviv. They belonged to the man who used to sell replacement parts to my father.
I photographed them, dusty as they were, against a white background. To me the white color symbolizes strength, discipline, limits, and order. Those were the characteristics that epitomized my father.
From these photographs, I wove a pattern using animation film as my medium. The film was shot in stop-motion technique— an old, manual shooting technique, in which each single frame is photographed individually, with the objects slightly moved between the shots—to create the illusion of animation in the different parts of the machine. Today this method has been replaced by a modern procedure, much like the old looms that have been supplanted by digital ones. My dad never succeeded in adapting to the new, computerized world.
My artwork was inspired by the various parts of the loom. At times the image resembles the part; other times the object has been transformed, looking round and oval, thin and thick, twisted and straight, painted and covered with rust, all at the same time.
In other words, I created a pattern that is made of the various parts that functioned together as a loom in days past. Each part in itself is meaningless, however, together they acquire a new existence that is expressed in sounds and in patterns of cloth. Endless meters of cloth…
I added the mechanical roars of the looms to the video. The texture of their sounds is still embedded in my mind, like an inscribed text, like the texture that is woven into a textile.
The second part of my installation was woven manually, the way my father wove his fabrics. Into this artwork, I incorporated hundreds of clips of the photographed loom parts. By doing so, I created a large cloth that is rich in colors and in patterns.
If my father were still alive today, he would have congratulated me, I presume, because I gave birth to artwork that contains the very DNA of the looms he knew so intimately. If I could answer my dad, I would tell him that there is no birth here but rather a requiem, a requiem to the looms of yesteryear.