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May 2017 - June 2018 | Whitworth Art Gallery

Yasmin Jahan Nupur Performance | A tailor is sewing the dress of Tipu Sultan
19 - 20 May 2018

Beyond borders, explored south asian textiles bringing together four artists working on issues around post-colonial identity, ruptured spaces, authenticity, displacement and belonging.

Beyond Borders highlighted the changing landscape of the subcontinent in the 21st century, post independence and partition, across the Whitworth's main textile gallery. Each artist’s new work is debuted alongside textiles and/or objects from the Whitworth's textile collection. Pattern books and vibrant textiles are selected to responded and resonate with themes captured in the artist’s own creations.

As part of this exhibition, there will be a special two-day performance by Bangladeshi artist, Yasmin Jahan Nupur. In this performance, Nupur used specially handwoven muslin-jamdani as a signifier of power and consumption embedded in the contested and violent history of the subcontinent. A highly revered, translucent cotton cloth from Bengal, muslin embellished with jamdani (woven pattern) has been celebrated over the centuries for its mesmerising allure and feather-light texture, often compared to moonlight or the morning dew. This fine cloth made from a labour-intensive process historically adorned the richest of rulers in the subcontinent and attracted a lucrative overseas trade. Growing up in Bangladesh Nupur was aware of how muslin had been celebrated across the world but equally, was deeply affected by the legacies and impact of British colonialism.

“There are entire generations of Bengali men and women who have grown up with legendary stories of how the British cut off the thumbs of weavers so they could no longer produce muslin and were forced to buy British goods. This history constantly hurts me”.

The exhibition was part of the New North and South, a network of eleven arts organisations from across the North of England and South Asia celebrating shared heritage across continents and develop artistic talent.

Performance Still of A Tailor is sewing the dress of Tipu Sultan (2018). Photo courtesy: Ashley Van Dyck and Whitworth, the University of Manchester.

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