The following text stems from the exhibition booklet of Actions of Art & Solidarity, curated by Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA).
Memory is an irreplaceable fundament for our struggle. It is precious and therefore always under constant threat of being taken from us. This patchwork wants to protect our collective memory, let it live and extend its creation. Its threads are as strong as the tendons of reindeers, as the river running like veins through our landscapes, as robust as the mountains that give us protection, and as vigorous as the ceiba, the sacred tree, that will guard and nourish our memory.
A new work commissioned especially for this exhibition, Solidarity Patchwork comprises a textile work, a collection of texts and a sound library conveying stories of solidarity connected to Norway’s forty-year solidarity association, the Latin-Amerikagruppene i Norge (The Norwegian Solidarity Committee for Latin America – LAG Norge). The patchwork has been generated through the solidarity work of two of its leading members, Astrid (b. 1990) and Ingrid Fadnes (b. 1983). A collective and evolving piece, it comprises over 100 contributions from individuals or groups with a past or present connection to LAG Norge. An ancestral way of telling stories through textiles, the piece is accompanied by texts and sounds: the patchwork and its narrative will continue to grow during and after the exhibition as new patches are made.
Every embroidered element bears witness to a story and is paired to a corresponding text in the accompanying booklet. Some patches also have a soundtrack of music, interviews or voice recordings, accessible by scanning the QR code. Individually, they speak of events, meetings, confrontations, reflections and more. When these micro-narratives are stitched together, their testimonies of solidarity traverse geographies, times, spaces and generations. The patchwork comes to life through the collectivity of people who have been, and are, a part of LAG.
LAG’s mission, as described by the Fadnes sisters, is ‘to fight capitalism, in all its forms and representations, and to make way for perspectives that can challenge the hegemonic world order.’ The organisation was established in the late 1970s, building upon the political and solidarity work of a network of groups and individuals who worked side by side with exiled Chilean activists against the brutal Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. LAG has always been an activist-driven organisation with small satellite working branches. Since 1982, the group has collaborated with social movements, left-political parties and collectives in Latin America through the project Solidarity Brigades.
More than a thousand people have participated in the solidarity brigades over the years, a project that continues today. Solidarity Patchwork is inspired and built through the creation of ‘living memories’ with work groups connecting Sápmi and the Zapatista Indigenous territories of Chiapas in Mexico, with Guatemala and the landless movement in Brazil. Astrid and Ingrid Fadnes note that ‘Memories are not frozen in the past, they live through us, as we continue to walk, to act, to dream, to resist, to exist. This patchwork is our collective memory, still under construction, as we continue to breathe.’
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