The textiles presented here were commissioned for a series of exhibitions Khadi - The Fabric of Freedom between 2001-2002, curated by the late Martand Singh. These exhibitions were developed within a broader set of initiatives involving textile experts Rahul Jain, Rta Kapur Chishti and Rakesh Thakore, and involved a study of the many cultures and technologies of cotton cultivation in India. Evoking reflections on its near and far histories, they further raised questions about the relevance of handspun and handwoven cotton fabric, qualities of which remain unique to the Indian subcontinent even today.
The exhibition’s first iteration was presented in Chirala in Andhra Pradesh in November last year, as part of Anchoring Innovation, a Conference and Festival celebrating the technological cultures of the handmade in India. Its second iteration was held at the iconic Lakshmi Mills in Coimbatore in January 2019, the opening of which was marked by the release of a catalogue of the exhibition. The third iterations was held at our home turf - Bengaluru at the Bangalore International Centre in March-April 2019.
Almost two decades later, what does such cloth mean to us? How does it inform the aesthetics of our everyday life? And what is its place in the world? Against the background of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year - whose Call for Khadi led the Indian freedom movement - it may be time for us to ask about the legacy of his ideas for non-violence, ahimsa. To explore the relationship between Khadi and the changing values of the country. And perhaps, to think about the ways in which innovation in handmade textiles, continues to define an ethos for Indian as well as international contemporary art and design.