Laura Eldret’s solo exhibition Gotas features an installation of new works including motif-laden textiles, tapestries, banners and floor markings. Gotas explores real and imagined social exchanges, the social value of fabric in relationship to esoteric cultural practices, and the entwinement of everyday life and fantasy. It reflects on the history of textiles in forging trans-regional connections and engages with the use of design motifs as a tool for cultural branding, mimesis and affect.

Central to the exhibition is Receipts of Exchange (2015), a series of rugs made by Zapotec weavers in Oaxaca, Mexico. The rug’s designs are the result of a series of discussions with the rug-makers over a number of months, and reflect on social codes and pleasures in the community: tensions between tradition and modernity, custom and individuality, expectation and opinion. For example, one rug depicts a series of bells and TV screens, reflecting on an incident that occurred in the pueblo on the Day of the Dead, involving the simultaneous encounter of an older technology (bells) and a more modern one (television). The pieces are hung and draped from a series of large frames that appear to tumble across the space.

The rugs were catalysts for building relationships with individuals and experiments in how sociability can be recorded in fabric form. The exhibition title is taken from the new work Gotas (2015), a large billboard piece featuring marks appropriated from the Zapotec rug designs. ‘Gotas’ is Spanish for ‘drops’ and is used to describe a repeated motif prevalent in Zapotec rug design. In one of Eldret’s first design conversation with one weaver, the ‘gotas’ was transformed into an open symbol with different possible meanings: they could literally represent the rain in London (where Eldret is based), or they also could be read as the stars in Oaxaca’s night sky. In her new work, Eldret imagines the ‘gotas’ as a transnational muster point, a node where ideas can be communicated in an open, playful and mutable dialogue.

Eldret’s work explores the production of materials and events as a process of social exchange, exploring the agency of art within a broad cultural sphere. Her works can be seen as records and experiments in how sociability can be proposed and recorded in material form. Eldret is interested in the uses of fabrics as carriers of encoded communal understanding, esoteric meaning and of transcendental forms. Her new works also address fabric as a sculptural form, reflecting on its ability to wrap, comfort, soften, shield, conceal and display.

Exhibited at AK Gallery, London.

Photo by Dan Weill