"Ethiopian Embroiderers" A community project realized during the Art Residency @ JCVA Jerusalem & Tel Aviv, Israel.(Coordinated by Nirith Nelson)
Text by Nirith Nelson
Work on the installation The 16 ways began in September 2007, when Anila Rubiku was invited to the JCVA residency program in Israel. The work is based on Pietro Aretino’s almost forgotten, erotic manuscript from the Italian Renaissance I Modi. The book ignited Rubiku’s imagination when she was first exposed to it in a private collection in Venice.
As in previous projects, here too the artist was matched with a group of embroiderers, in this case Ethiopian women who have a long and rich tradition of extremely colourful work. In a complex and fascinating process, the 16 erotic positions were stitched by the religious women, whose responses to the material were quite strong. Subsequently the work was folded into a three dimensional illuminated fold-up and exhibited in the Braverman Gallery in Tel Aviv. The embroidery appeared enclosed in a box, where the viewers could discover the hidden erotic content. Anila extravagantly juxtaposes the most intimate material with the most public, and generates motion and openness in the very site of introverted traditionality.