“Now, the most important task is to reclaim our senses.
We need to see more, hear more, and feel more…”
— Susan Sontag
The events we have experienced in recent years, the rapid development of artificial intelligence, and the increasing importance of virtuality challenges physical contact as many people have thought the ‘real’ world to be, and have undoubtedly the power to transform us into a more individualistic and disinterested social fabric, increasingly detached from socialization and communal activities.
Let us return to our bodies and their relationship with our surroundings, and other bodies for a better understanding of the world. We need to engage with all our senses
In this edition of CONTEXTILE 2024, we are proposing a reflection on Touch. We believe touch is the foremost sense capable of repositioning people in relation to the world and from a less ocular-centric perspective. Touch is a powerful tool for fostering closer, collaborative, and healthier human relationships. Touch, when used with respect, consent, and consideration, can create environments where people feel more connected to each other, a fundamental aspect in building stronger communities and more cohesive societies. Ethical touch goes beyond the physical aspect, representing, above all, an expression of recognizing humanity in one another.
Textiles and touch are intrinsically linked, forming a complex relationship that spans various dimensions. Textiles, as materials composing fabrics and surfaces, have a distinctive tactile quality with the ability to evoke different sensations when presented against the skin of what we understand to be bodies – “human beings” in organisms, environments, space, and time. If textile conveys complex cultural, historical, technological, and emotional meanings through patterns, colors, communication, and textures, then new identities, new symbolisms from older histories, and inclusive narratives can be reimagined.
Touch is reconsidered and recreated through its traditions and heritage histories, textile craftspeople, contact with organic and natural materials, manual skill, and a propensity for the analogue . But it’s also through dialogue, confrontation, or complementarity with the exploration of new materials and technological procedures applied to textile art. It’s important, within this intricate web, to connect communities and territories of textile culture that can undoubtedly bring new reflections, approaches, and expansions to the concept of Touch.
Textiles and textile art are important vehicles for rethinking touch and reevaluating where we are in places designated for exchange, where everything is in contact, potentially bringing together people from different societies in their sensitivities and experiences.
The challenge for all of us is to be watchful and consider, what is the form that captures the times we are living in, now and in the future?