Stitches of Power. Stitches of Sorrow, 2014

Stitches of Power, Stitches of Sorrow, 2014

“In 2014 I developed the performance Stitches of Power. Stitches of Sorrow. Together with the audience I created a ‘communal body’ because I wanted them to realize how deep the pain and suffering has been for blak women during slavery, colonialism and modernity. How we are systematically ignored in Western history and how our bodies have been used and abused and de-humanized. Without realizing, the audience embroiders an image of a blak female body. Penetrating the body with a needle symbolizes the history of sexual assaults on blak female bodies but at the same time depicts a healing aspect of stitching up wounds. Meanwhile one hears the voice of Angela Davis, who is in prison facing murder charges, explaining the necessity of using violence for the Black Panthers.” – Patricia Kaersenhout

During slavery embroidery was a pass time for white women of higher social rung. While in the colonies black women were facing hard labour and daily horrors like rape, and being separated from husbands and children, white women were at the same time embroidering innocent images on white fabric.

During the performance the audience is invited to embroider the black body of a female warrior (aka Dahomey-Amazone) on white fabric. The needle literally penetrating an image of a black female body. Filling in the ‘empty image’ emphasizes the historical non position and neglect of black women in West European written history. At the same time stitching is also an act of healing wounds from the colonial trauma. Embroidering as an re-enactment of innocence symbolizing an act of violence.

Patricia Kaersenhout
Stitches of Power. Stitches of Sorrow, 2014
Installation view Spurensicherung at Wilfried Lentz Rotterdam, 2017
also on view works by Rossella Biscotti and Jean Katambayi Mukendi
Photo: Paula Winkler
Stitches of Power. Stitches of Sorrow, 2014
Silk screen, embroidery hoops and wool on textile
165 cm x 150 cm, unique
screenprint with a quote of bell hooks,
videodocumentation