CONFIDENCE POWER PLUS — Šejla Kamerić uses a wearable series of silk scarves entitled Maze (Labyrinth) to examine the dynamics of work and wealth.
A brightly printed scarf in the finest flowing silk — it is a traditional signifier of luxury. A symbol of elegance and affluence, at once wearable and collectable, for some, the foulard has become shorthand for the moneyed set. Each one is a statement piece, providing a splash of color while remaining in so-called good taste. But like any consumer good, there are hidden hands behind its existence.
Šejla Kamerić’s Maze plays with that reality, and reveals the unseen worker. The acclaimed Bosnian artist has long worked with textiles as
a means of social commentary, and to explore issues of displacement and identity. The weight of her themes stands in powerful contrast to her individual aesthetics and choice of delicate materials. Now, for the first time she creates wearable art — unique prints in the form of vivid silk patterned scarves.
“The patterns are made as a maze, but a maze that can be navigated and its path shared as an understanding of the ‘bigger picture,’” explains Kamerić. “Working class is the base. Art should not be just an escape; it should function as a corrective.”
At closer look, the colorful, kaleidoscopic prints hold a deeper story that demands attention — they are digitally created from manipulated found photographs of workers around the world.
In the images Kamerić chooses, the subjects hail from diverse sectors and cultures. They never work: they protest, wait, or gaze directly at the camera. The cornflower blue suits of standing construction workers clash with their high-visibility vests and bright yellow safety helmets. Saris vibrant and varied enough to rival the finest foulards drape over textile workers as they sit calmly in a strike action.
Upon inspection, each of these individuals can be recognized. From a distance, they become part of an amorphous working whole, whirling and morphed into a new product.
In the exhibition CONFIDENCE POWER PLUS, these scarves are shown in conjunction with Maze (Base Mix), 2017, an installation of two large-scale 130 x 130 cm digital silk prints that combine the various worker motifs into new multi-faceted and complex patterns. These are displayed against mirrors, hung in the format used by luxury scarf retailers and collectors. The setting plays with our expectations, blurring the line between art exhibition and fashion store, while the exhibition title questions in an ironic way what talismanic effect these works could have. Visitors are encouraged to pick up the scarves from the display table and try them on, giving them a chance to reflect upon their role in the means and process of production, reproduction, and consumption. CONFIDENCE POWER PLUS is required to take on the artist’s challenge.