Labour of Love
This talk traces Palestinian embroidery’s shift from a historic, individual practice, associated with self-expression, to a cultural artefact and marker of nationalism. A resonant symbol of Palestine, the embroidered dress has been made for centuries. It has been politicised in national struggle, critically adopted by contemporary artists and has been intimately connected to changing gender norms, labour practices and economic realities in Palestine over the past century. Rachel Dedman has curated three exhibitions on this subject for the Palestinian Museum, the most recent of which was Labour of Love: New Approaches to Palestinian Embroidery, 2018.
In this talk, Dedman uses clothing to unfold an intimate, political history of Palestine. Going beyond the embroidered thobe itself, she will explore the circulation of embroidery as image in the 1970s, its operation as a tool of resistance during the First Intifada, the implications of its commodification and the nature of its production today.
Rachel Dedman is a curator, writer, and art historian based between Lebanon and London, where she is Jameel Curator of Contemporary Art from the Middle East at the V&A. As an independent curator, recent projects include exhibitions for Ashkal Alwan and Sursock Museum, Beirut Art Center, Dar el-Nimer and Nadim Karam (all Beirut), Kiln Theatre (London), apexart (New York), and the Palestinian Museum (West Bank). Rachel is currently curating exhibitions for Kettle’s Yard (Cambridge), the Whitworth Gallery (Manchester), and for Brent: London Borough of Culture, in 2020. Rachel is co-founder and editor of polycephaly.net, and one third of Radio Earth Hold, a research collective commissioning broadcasts from artists. She is published extensively in contemporary arts contexts, and is currently a Forum Fellow at Art Dubai. Rachel studied history of art at St John’s College, Oxford, and Harvard University.
Image courtesy of INAASH, Beirut