Designer Alexandra Kehayoglou ((before) creates exquisite pieces of flowing textiles that refer to the rugged landscapes of her native Argentina. In making each tapestry, Kehayoglou transforms excess carpet fabric into natural elements, ranging from a spectrum of earth-colored mosses to clusters of trees and serpentine rivers that cut through the heart of their fabrics. Fragments of the artist’s own memories are intertwined in each piece, including the slow receding of the waterways and the changes in the Argentine grasslands.
Her latest work, a series called Prayer rugs, show animal footprints and small vegetative features of the Parana wetlands 50 kilometers from Buenos Aires. In recent years, the region’s biodiversity has been decimated by the wood and paper industries, which has facilitated the growth of alien plant species that have since gotten out of hand. In addition, man-made fires wreaked havoc in 2020 while cattle trampled the once lush grasslands.
Kehayoglou’s pieces document the foliage that has remained after years of widespread exploitation, and how the local fauna reappears over time: thistles grow through cracks in the dry earth, deer leave tracks spattered with mud, and chirping insects dance on juvenile leaves. The artworks tell of the change and growth of the wetland, reflect the pain caused by capitalism and transform the need for change into tapestries that point to the hope of the Argentines. Kehayoglou says:
The isolation made me see my carpets as spaces in which new forms of activism could be staged. A type of activism that, instead of focusing on paranoid conflict, was quiet, absorbent and, I believe, more effective. My carpets thus became instruments for documenting “small” aspects of the country that would otherwise be overlooked as irrelevant. A focus on his micro-narratives that would open new doors for possible ecological futures.
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