What type of textile is this?
It depends how you define or conceptualize “textile.” The work I have selected was made using a carboard postal box, typical of those used in France for packaging items. The artist, Chohreh Feyzdjou, lived in Paris at the time. She covered the box with a thick layer of black paint—you can still see the brush strokes. There’s a black-and-white printed label on the lid that reads “PRODUCT OF CHOHREH FEYZDJOU” (all upper case), which has been colored using a thin purple/lilac wash, but is now rather faded. Inside it is coconut coir or fiber that has been saturated in grey-black pigment. It looks like a mass of dark wiry hair. In fact, if you knew Chohreh, you might have thought it was her hair. It was one of the first things you noticed about her.
Was it produced for a specific use?
It’s a multiple, made on the occasion of a solo show of Chohreh’s work in the autumn of 1995, held at Peninsula Foundation, an artists’ initiative in Eindhoven, which organized exhibitions of contemporary art and also published artists’ books and editions. The original idea was to produce an edition of 50, but only 25 were made. I didn’t actually see the exhibition, but Peter Foolen showed me photos of it when I visited him at Peninsula. It was the last exhibition that Chohreh made before her untimely death in February 1996. But I didn’t realize that when I selected the multiple for “Folded Life,” until I contacted Peter for more information about it.
Chohreh covered the gallery floor at Peninsula with the darkened coconut coir, and some of it was used to fill the multiples. She had done something similar the previous year in an installation for Bath Festival (UK), covering the floor of an empty hotel room with grey-black coconut fiber several centimeters deep. The exhibition at Peninsula also included Products of Chohreh Feyzdjou, Série B, about 300 glass bottles, jars, and little pots displayed in a long row along the walls of the gallery on shelves that had been treated with pigment.
What material(s) is it comprised of?
As mentioned, it is a painted cardboard postal box with a printed and painted paper label, and inside is the coconut coir, which had been colored with dark pigment. When Chohreh and I discussed her use of this material, she called it “horsehair,” which confused me!
What are its dimensions?
13 × 20.5 × 7 cm
What year (or date range) was it made?
It was made in 1995.
Where was it made (geographical location)?
At Peninsula Foundation, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
Was the textile handmade or mass-produced?
It was handmade.
Can the textile be attributed to a specific designer, craftsperson or artist or a company that produced the item?
It was made by the artist Chohreh Feyzdjou (b. Teheran, 1955–d. Paris, 1996) and “published” by Peninsula Foundation. She painted the boxes and Peter Foolen and Pieter Alewijns from Peninsula filled them with the coconut fiber.
How did you come to own this particular textile?
It was given to me by artist Peter Foolen when I visited him in Eindhoven, on a research project some time after Chohreh’s death, perhaps 1996 or 1997. He was very generous, and also gave me exhibition catalogues of Chohreh’s work from the exhibitions at Peninsula in 1993 and 1995, and an edition (143/2000) of a small printed work that resembles a postage stamp. It’s a detail of a photo of Products of Chohreh Feyzdjou, Série B, the small glass bottles and jars that I mentioned. Chohreh filled them with different objects and materials, including pigment, wax, glue, fabric, and string.
How would you describe the status of this textile in your lived environment (i.e. do you wear it, store it, display it, use it, etc.)?
It’s in a box in my study. I take it out from time to time and open it. Although I have a lot of catalogues of Chohreh’s exhibitions, it’s really nice to have this piece of her work.
Do you recall what drew you to this textile initially?
It’s typical of Chohreh’s work from that period: dark, in all senses, abject, and with a strong sense of materiality. It “speaks” of the materials it’s made of, as well as the making process itself. It has a very direct haptic and emotional impact on me. I think it’s also quite humorous, in a dark sort of way.
What further information (if any) would you feel important to add about this textile, either in relation to your interview or more generally?
Chohreh’s work, which I came across in the mid 1990s, had and continues to have a profound effect and affect on me, especially the Products of Chohreh Feyzdjou installation, which varied each time she installed it, rearranging the objects differently.
The work speaks of something elemental. It would be easy to just see it as dark, abject, and mournful, and perhaps it is—although Chohreh was insistent that it was about creativity, not destruction. In fact she also made small colorful drawings and paintings of quirky, fantastical creatures—animals and birds—and landscapes, which often were concealed within the Products, and she even buried a series of paintings in the ground for one exhibition.
Chohreh’s work is multidimensional. There are so many ways to think about it: as an ironic “play” on the commodification of art and the art world; an exploration, at times playful, on themes of identity, culture/s, otherness, and exile; a kind of “theater”’ or mise-en-scène in which the process of making art—and the need to take things apart and re-create them—is laid bare. The Products are very grounded, yet for me also have something of the spiritual about them.