Black Tears Project comes to London, weaving message of defiance against global exploitation of women, By James Brewer
Here is a record-breaking work of art, the product of the combined contributions of 2, 245 women from 46 countries in all inhabited continents.
Their weaving skills have been united into a deeply striking tapestry of 2 x 14 m, which is as dominated by the colour blue – which can be said to represent the healing and uniting power of water – as by black.
Going by the name of the Lágrimas Negras (Black Tears) project, the endeavour has been designed to elevate handicraft to an instrument of social transformation and it is a salute to the fight for the global human rights of women and girls.
It has been brought to public attention in the UK at The Other Art Fair (London, April 23-26 2015) by Alejandra Corral, Madrid-born president of Arte y Concienciación Social, a non-profit organisation supporting artists who pursue projects for social purposes. Madrid-born Alejandra, also known as Kuka, is an accomplished artist who studied in Paris and the Spanish capital and has had shows in Madrid, Brussels, Segovia, Vigo and elsewhere.
The giant textile, using an ancient fabric technique, is meant to raise awareness of the victims of sexual maltreatment and trafficking – one of the major curses of the 21st century – by means of an exhibition travelling through Europe. More than 5, 000 people saw the work on display at the University of Valladolid, and it attracted widespread publicity throughout Spain.
The contributing women, aged between eight and 80, were sent needles and threads of blue, black and white and asked to design their own non-figurative patterns in squares of 15 cm sq, and to send them back by post. Blue represents water, white is for hope, and black signifies pain, symbolising the tears of women trapped by prostitution. Six volunteers at the association spent many hours putting together the pieces.
One of the volunteers was a nun, Sister Isolina Garrido, who works for the organisation Proyecto Esperanza (Project Hope), of the Congregación de Religiosas Adoratrices. She said that she had lost count of the number of victims of sexual violence that she had counselled over the last 20 years.
A former lawyer, Alejandra lives in Madrid and her artistic output includes painting and collage of recycled material. Much of her current work is with textiles.
The association, which lists among its supporters the insurer AXA Art, is displaying the work to appeal for donations and aims to sell or auction it as one piece. The proceeds will go to Proyecto Esperanza and Fundación Amaranta, which respectively campaign against sexual repression in Spain and India.