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A Sensual Awakening

Lesley Millar, GB

The self-conscious knowledge of the body was for Adam and Eve a discovery of the Self and the Other - the world and the body as an object within the world. This was followed by an exploration of how cloth conceals, reveals and defines the Self and the Other. Thus cloth became the mediating surface for the visceral body, describing what is hidden and mysterious, a signifier of the erotic.
This presentation will discuss the role of cloth in our sensual awakening, and in so doing will draw upon the research that Lesley Millar and Alice Kettle undertook for their book 'The Erotic Cloth'. You will be invited to reflect upon the sensation of cloth: the consideration of the drape, fold, touch and feel of cloth, and thereby encounter aspects of the Self and the Other.

The materiality of cloth allows for the nuanced, rather than direct, reading of the body: the shape beneath, the space between, the haptic narrative. Cloth in motion, the touch, sound, smell and taste of cloth is 'emotional, erotic and affective' 1; it becomes the sensuous sign that ‘does us violence; it mobilizes the memory, it sets the soul in motion.’2

1 Athena Belas. Twilight, texture, tactility: teen film’s sensuous pleasures
2 Gilles Deleuze (tr.R. Howard). Proust and Signs

Lesley Millar, Professor of Textile Culture, Director of the International Textile Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts, ran her own weave studio for over 20 years before becoming an exhibition curator specialising in textiles. She has been responsible for many international textile exhibitions since 1996 including ‘Textural Space’ (2001), ‘21:21 – the textile vision of Reiko Sudo and NUNO’ (2005-7), ‘Cloth & Culture NOW’ (2008),  ‘Lost in Lace’ (2011), 'Cloth & Memory {2}' (2013), 'Here & Now: contemporary tapestry' (2016-17) and most recently 'Weaving New Worlds' (2018). She writes regularly about textile practice including co-editing, with Alice Kettle, the book 'Erotic Cloth' for Bloomsbury Academic (2018).
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Textile Kultur Haslach
Stahlmühle 4, A-4170 Haslach

Austrian Commission for UNESCO/Österreichische UNESCO-Kommission
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