Textiles Don’t Burn – Ivana Podnar

December 1, 2009

Ivana Podnar is a ready made textile artist who plays with textile and fibre practically her whole life. Although many girls sew clothes for their dolls during the childhood (I have to admit, it’s a rather rare phenomenon nowadays), only few of them stick to sewing for the whole life.

ivana_podnar_1.jpgReady made shirt made of old stockings by Ivana Podnar

If we really want to understand completely Ivana’s attitude towards textile art and the use of lo-fi objects in her work we have to dig deeply through some stories buried in her memory from the childhood.

Her pieces and many of her own clothes are actually remade stuff she has got from her grandmother, aunties and her father. By re-adapting their clothes she is making multiple connections not only to the people she likes, but also marking it now with her own personal presence. Every piece of clothing has its own story, we are the one who let those stories to rise up…

ivana_podnar_3.jpgMemo Skirt by Ivana Podnar

One circular and constant motif in her work is linked to her way too early passed away dad. It’s a way she still feels connected with him in closest way by textile and touch. Wearing something that belongs to this period of her childhood reveals warm memories and love, gradually showing growing up processes within the piece, and in the same way continuing the communication with him.

She never uses expensive materials. On the contrary, she always makes her own patterns choosing cheap materials in order to denude the social meaning and connotations of the material, making now a new three dimensional canvas for new stories…

ivana_podnar_4.jpgDetail from Memo Skirt by Ivana Podnar

I don’t think Ivana is capable to redesign or wear any piece of clothing just in the manner of a routine. That, of course, raises many questions? Have we all became too comfortable and routined? Why don’t we feel comfortable anymore while buying clothes? What has happened with our feelings towards the process of making something only for ourselves?

It’s interesting to notice that previous layers are never erased in totality, fragments and tinny marks could be visible through the layers, sending a message that often reminds me on Mikhail Bulgakov’s wordz: Manuscripts Don’t Burn.

Textiles Don’t Burn, no matter how cheap and disposable they are.

ivana_podnar_5.jpgDetail from Memo Skirt by Ivana Podnar

Ivana’s approach is based on simple question: How can you elevate bad material into a good piece with sewing? In her work she uses all kinds of materials,  for instance models from the seventies  made practically of pure synthetics, cos she finds their patterns to be very moving.

The other aspect of her work is this changing of functions… making from mother’s apron a new dress. She finds particularly moving switching between functions of one particular object.

ivana_podnar_6.jpgMamo Skirt exhibited at Balkan Fibre Art

The real shift in her work has happened two years ago when she got an invitation from Balkan Fiber Art founder Nena Skoko to partake in their colony. Meeting some of the leading artists in the contemporary textile art today was inspiring same as finally getting into the circle of artists she deserves to be.

Since then Ivana is working more on conceptual artworkz. She’s not interested in commercialization of her work and, do I have to tell you, of course when she’s sewing clothes, she does it only for her boyfriend, sister, nephew and herself. No chance for anybody to enter this holly circle. One must respect that.

ivana_podnar_2.jpg‘What at You Staring at?’ by Ivana Podnar

At the first exhibition of Balkan Fibre Art she went totally lo-fi exhibiting two of her works, ‘Memo Wear’ and ‘What at You Staring at?’

‘Memo Wear’ is a blue skirt with sewed in objects/memories from her childhood and schooling days, such as a gift from her first ‘boyfriend’, doll’s plastic shoe, pencil’s bag from elementary school, small t-shirt, father’s gift – hair bow, textile doll, hairpins, earrings, print from scrapbook and grades, the necklace of friendship. A real wearable map of her childhood, but also brings to the surface the conflict of our memories, as well as the relation between implicit and explicit phenomena in our lives.

ivana_podnar_7.jpgDetail from ‘What at You Staring at?’ by Ivana Podnar

‘What at You Staring at?’ is made from a dozen of bras made at last year’s edition of BFA which had Body as the main topic of workshop. The project was triggered by men staring at our tits, so she decided to make a costume only from bras as a completely opposite object from the individual part of lingerie. There could be so many tits, but in fact nobody’s tits to see at all. What kind of bra is that?! Well, What at You Staring at?

ivana_podnar_8.jpgReady made skirt / pelerine made of old stockings by Ivana Podnar

At this year’s edition of Remade Artservis II workshop in Belgrade  Ivana took part as a guest artist. Workshop’s concept was based around the idea of recycling clothes from old one. Participants were asked to remade woolen or nylon socks, stockings, tights,  into skirts, dresses and shirts.

ivana_podnar_9.jpgReady made shirt made of old stockings by Ivana Podnar

Ivana Podnar is into socially responsible art and aesthetic provocative fashion, sometimes trying to combine both into a subversive action. She graduated art history and comparative literature at the Zagreb University, did a lot of writing about all aspects of visual culture, from museum architecture, public sculpture, art events, contemporary art exhibitions…. Currently at the postgraduate studies on urban icons at Ljubljana University. Took part at Balkan Fiber Art (Novi Sad) workshop in 2008 and Remade Artservis II (Belgrade) in 2009.

December 1, 2009 @ 8:24 am

thank you Deb! you made me look great, now I'm preparing myself for a new sewing exploration!

December 1, 2009 @ 9:58 am

oh, gimme a break… you're welcome… 🙂 not that you're only inspiring artist, but you're the best possible guest blogger i could have… and a patient friend :))))

December 1, 2009 @ 10:56 am

All works are great, amazing and inspiring.

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