Loosing the Compass at White Cube, Masons Yard

Curated by Scott Cameron Weaver and Mathieu Paris

On first entering the ground floor gallery you are met by a new configuration of the space. There is no second entrance behind the reception desk, instead large steps displaying piles of carpets. The scene looks like an unhappy merging of a Turkish market and the usual pristine contemporary art space. It isn’t until you start to figuratively go through the weaves, to inspect and access the rugs that a much more complex story begins to unfold. This is not a display of decorative arts but a socio-political demonstration of conflicting boundaries; a melding of cultures and a blurring of borders. Alighiero e Boetti conceptually challenges the textile form, placing on it greater concerns than interior design but instead looks to craftsmen to demonstrate deeper truths.

Stream (light), 2013

Stream (light), 2013

Order and disorder, nods to the Arte Povera movement and uncredited use of anonymous works combine to present bright and bold square wall mounted text work and piles of larger works across the platform. Some are from Amish communities, others commissioned from Afghanistan — some are from the early nineteenth century, others as recently completed as the 1980s.

4 Rugs (made in Egypt), 1998/2015

4 Rugs (made in Egypt), 1998/2015

Walking down the stairs to the larger space there is a beautiful and delicate Mona Hatoum, Stream (light) is quiet and fragile, made of sewn human hair and toilet paper. In contrast another piece of her’s comprises four carpets depicting collapsed skeletons made in Egypt and in their tones referencing the many tombs unearthed from their ancient civilisation. It’s far more confrontational to walk around than a simple throw. Downstairs is a stronger and more varied collection; Mike Kelley has shamelessly painted acrylic on carpet, wall-mounted they give a two toned effect of colour as you go past. 

Carpet #5, 2003 (detail)

Carpet #5, 2003 (detail)

Alighiero e Boetti has the final space of the gallery as well. William Morris Pimpernel wallpaper has been appropriated, or pasted, to use a more colloquial term, in front of the lifts and further colourful text squares have been hung within it. Strangely, it returns to the more domesticated suggestions the further inspection of upstairs does so much to overturn.