The Event of a Thread: Global Narratives in Textiles


February 22 – July 7, 2019

“The Event of a Thread” brings together 25 international contemporary artists, who use textile to create aesthetic and cultural narratives through objects, installations and video works. The title of the exhibition is a quotation from On Weaving (1965), the reference book by Anni Albers, one of the most important artists from the Bauhaus textile workshops. Albers believed that socio-cultural and economic activities impacted textiles, and stated that “Just as it is possible to go from any place to any other, so also, starting from a defined and specialized field, can one arrive at a realization of ever-extending relationships. Thus tangential subjects come into view.​” According to Albers, one could discover “the event of a thread”​ at the root of each development. In the exhibition, weaving threads are utilized as a metaphor, which facilitate the interaction of weaving styles, stories and production techniques from different cultures, and mediate the development of new connections between them.

Organized in collaboration with the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (ifa, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), one of the oldest art institutions in Germany, the exhibition is curated by Susanne Weiss and Inka Gressel on the invitation of ifa and aims to build on the original selection by creating new connections in each institution the exhibition travels to, with the assistance of curators at each institution and the addition of new works from local artists. “The Event of a Thread” features a variety of stories ranging from the tradition of quipu used by ancient Andean cultures in South America to the textile techniques from the indigenous people of Wichí in Argentine and from Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu’s revival and adoption of the long-forgotten tradition of yazma (originally used for hand-painted kerchief) to Burhan Doğançay’s tapestries created at the Aubusson workshops. The exhibition focuses on the historical, social and cultural meanings of fabrics, investigates the various uses of textile as a tool of expression and presents different artistic positions that interact with one another within the exhibition space.

One of the two special areas in the exhibition has been dedicated to Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu (1911-1975), the first artist to develop a synthesis between painting and embroidery, textiles and yazma traditions in Turkey. A selection of Eyüboğlu’s yazma in addition to a selection of his never-before-seen fabric-printing block plates are presented in the “The Event of a Thread” exhibition. The other special area in the exhibition has been dedicated to Bauhaus. In this special area, there is a large installation dedicated to Bauhaus, the art school that influenced art and design education around the world upon its establishment by Walter Gropius in Germany, in 1919. 

Starting in Dresden, “The Event of a Thread” exhibition travelled to Kuwait before making its way to Istanbul. The touring exhibition demonstrates the variety of opportunities provided by textiles as a multifaceted tool of expression in addition to its purpose as a surface produced via the systematic integration of yarn layers, warps and wefts. Social, cultural and historical narratives are untied from threads of fabric and rearranged for us to create new connections between them.



Artists: Belkıs Balpınar, Ulla von Brandenburg, Hussein Chalayan, Burhan Doğançay, Noa Eshkol, Andreas Exner, Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu, Uli Fischer, Şakir Gökçebağ, Zille Homma Hamid, Heide Hinrichs, Olaf Holzapfel, Gözde İlkin, Christa Jeitner, Elisa van Joolen & Vincent Vulsma, Gülsün Karamustafa, Servet Koçyiğit, Eva Meyer & Eran Schaerf, Karen Michelsen Castañón, İrfan Önürmen, Judith Raum, Sabire Susuz, Franz Erhard Walther


Bauhaus Space

Harald Schmidt Archive

Ziya Tacir


Curators: Susanne Weiß, Inka Gressel (ifa, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen); Öykü Özsoy (Istanbul Modern)


Curatorial Team

Ümit Mesci, Deniz Pehlivaner



Gülsün Karamustafa, Angel, 1986

Textile collage

103 x  144 x 15 cm

Photo: Chroma

Courtesy of the artist and BüroSarigedik



Heide Hinrichs, Semibody, 2013

Installation with video projection, panel of fabric, 7 cardboard boxes with small parts of leather, papier mâché, fabric, feathers, paper

ca. 250 x 350 cm

Photo: Uwe Walther


Exhibition Publication

"The Event of a Thread" exhibition catalogue

"The Event of a Thread" is an exhibition of ifa
(Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) made in collaboration with Istanbul Modern and supported by
Goethe-Institut Istanbul.