Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On Instagram
July 05 through August 12, 2015 – IA /The story of a shirt with a story to tell

July 05 through August 12, 2015 – IA /The story of a shirt with a story to tell

For more infos on the vernissage & workshop – click here
The newsletter from Die StadtSpionin recommending our exhibition (in German) – click here

ARTIST: Ioana Cordeneanu

OPENING EVENT: July 04, 7pm
The artist will be present.
CLOSING EVENT: August 12, 7pm


IA is how we call our traditional shirt. IA, or INIA, as IN is our word for ‘linen’ (“linon” in ancient Greek, “linum” in Latin). It was made of linen fabric, optimised cut (zero loss), enriched with fine and intricate embroidery.

For those who are initiated, the IA is like an opened book, which women ‘wrote’ with needle and thread, in order to pass down to their daughters, to future generations, vital information, keys to happiness, encoded into symbols. They used a visual language, universal communication tool throughout what was once the ‘Old Europe’, North Africa, Anatolia to Caucasian Mountains. For most of us today, these images are just ornaments. But long ago, they were clear ideas. These symbols were, in fact, the logo-s and the emoticons kept form prehistoric times. And what were those women expressing? What are their stories about?


BARCODES pe catrinte

coloana vertebrala camasi de BANAT

cuparencu - VRANCEA 2

They used symbols to talk about themselves, their vision of life, the way they understood the world and their place in it, about the meaning of life and recipe for fulfilment. And once you are initiated into this visual language, your are drawn into it and, through empathy, your soul will be able to read a Romanian blouse, will vibrate with textiles from primitive Berber rugs to sophisticated Caucasian carpets, kilim-s of the Balkans, towels of East Europe. And you can re-connect with almost forgotten values of humanity, you can be more aware, you can even change your perspective on life. The story of the signs starts with the story of the people and their journey out of Africa.

But our story starts, surprisingly, in Vienna, thanks to an Album that was printed here in 1911. In that time, our North-East county, Bukowina, was part of the Austrian Empire. Willing to study the local embroidery art, to understand its specific grace and precision in execution, the Austrian Engineer Erich Kolbenheyer went into this area, where he spent several years and made an impressive study, with drawings and explanations. A century later, in 2012, his study was the inspiration and the start of the biggest archive of traditional blouse patterns Romania ever had. And this generated an impressive interest and a revival of traditions. Despite fashion and trends, Romanian women realised that the blouses made by their grandmothers are more precious than any blouse money can buy. They don’t have a label, but they have a soul and a story to tell. Very personal and real. Like their DNA.
People never stopped communicating through images. Only that during the industrial revolution, they stopped being creators and became consumers. Messages are now printed on T-shirts, written in English, which is another universal language of our days. Many people became slaves of fashion, while others, less lucky, became slaves abused by the greedy fashion industry.
Maybe this is why we consider that the messages from the past are more actual than ever, because they can help into bringing a bit of balance in a confused world. Examples?
REGENERATION: people of the past knew that the only energy worthy to worship are those which never end: sun, waves, wind, forest, earth. There is no symbol for oil, no symbol for gas or for gold. Because they are limited resources, they awake greed in humans and generate conflicts
LOVE: the idea of a happy couple was expressed through signs of obvious perfect balance. Women were not looking so much for romance, which is so unstable and heart-breaking. They were educated to build relationships based on mutual care and respect, wishing for harmony, understanding and team-work. No tears !
THE JOURNEY: life is a journey that women used to represent through a sinuous line, like a biorythm, enriched with flowers and stars. Ups and downs, good days and bad days, we have to learn to enjoy every step of the “lost path” (the name of this motif). Lost – because we can’t find the way back, we can not travel back in time. We have a life, a path, a mission, a story. May flowers grow behind you and flower bloom ahead all the way. How to live beautifully, to the full.

cuparencu - VRANCEA 2

cuparencu - VRANCEA 2



Well, how will we do it?

We will first “translate” some of our blouses, for people to see their stories decoded.
We will then encourage people to read such stories which will integrate ancient and modern coding and patterns.
We will then encourage people to meditate about what they consider important to transmit to future generations – and create their own visual story.
We will then encourage people to make their own blouse with a story. To meditate about how people can commit a bit to their clothes, choosing to rather wear a blouse with a meaning instead of a dozen of items that will go out of fashion when the season ends.
We will then encourage them to care and share this experience and believe that their actions can change the world, at least a little bit.

Images – printed on boards and banners will align along a fence, outdoors public spaces, an intriguing mix between ancient and modern. Our call to action and our slogans will invite people to play the game (treasure-hunting) and become part of the story. They will be able to finally meet the real objects, to be able to touch they, enjoy the texture, will be able to wear them and take photos to capture the moment and they will be able to put together all the pieces of the puzzle in the Exhibition hosted by the Gallery. They will also be invited to participate into workshops in order to learn how to make such a blouse, using traditional techniques and find out or remember the joy of creating art with your own hands. They will be able to buy a KIT with everything needed to make their own blouse (the right fabric, the threads and the needles and of course, the instructions). The models we will work with will be selected from Ing. Erich Kolbenheyer Album, as we want to honour his efforts. The Exhibition will be opened during the summer.



www ROMB