Monumental installation "77 chintzes"
at „Sots Art and Fashion. Conceptual clothes from Eastern Europe“ in KUMU Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia
By form “77 chintzes” is the sequel of Ilison’s work "70 cotton smocks", but is essentially drawing light on the elements of the Soviet era in a nostalgically and bright manner. The personal memory of Ilison of a hot and sweaty summer day - the artist sitting on her grandmother's lap, who is wearing a floral chintz dress, making hay on a horse rake at the end of the 1980s - sounds like an impossible combination today. Ilison is deeply fascinated by how a floral chintz dress was a real workwear that was worn everywhere, even at dirty works, being a very feminine phenomenon and opposing heavily to Western-European (mostly) monochrome or white uniforms. The material nature of the work and the feelings and reminiscences that emerge in the audience and in the participants of the work presentations are equally important for Ilison, creating a unified experience and memory that combines the past and the present, where the core is the author's work.
Marit Ilison was the only artist in this retrospective exhibition who was invited to take part with a new artpiece “77 chintzes”, which is based on the archives of Narva Museum Krenholm collection. With its 10,000 employees, Krenholm Manufacture was the largest textile producer in Eastern Europe during the late Socialist period, which would have been able to supply the entire Soviet Union, if needed. It is the first time that Krenholm collection was worked with and publicly presented in such vast volume.
The artwork consisting of 77 cotton dresses is representing a selection of 89 patterns from the archives of now defunct Krenholm Textile Manufacture. All prints were meticulously digitalized one by one from A4 size samples and re-printed only for one dress. Limited collection of unique 89 digitally printed cotton tote bags, featuring the prints used in the installation, are available here.
Photos by Tõnu tunnel