The word ‘extant’ means ‘surviving’ or ‘still in existence’. It’s also a word that silently acknowledges loss. The extant weavings of an artisan implies that some have been lost or destroyed. By removing the initial vowel, XTANT 2021 festival acknowledges the loss of heritage craft due to various causes. XTANT celebrates ‘looking back’ in order to ‘move forward’ which includes the imperative to celebrate, preserve and conserve traditional textile crafts and support the artisans who make them.
Organised by craft curators Kavita Parmar and Marcella Echavarria, the event is spread across multiple venues in Mallorca. Es Baluard Museum of Contemporary Art is the featured location and the host for a heritage textile market. More than forty international master artisans from twenty-three countries will exhibit and sell their work at the market on 21-25 June. Exhibitors and materials include pineapple fibre weavers from the Philippines; textiles woven from chaguar plants native to Argentina; the Mexican Dreamweavers project of La Abogada del Pueblo that supports Mixtec weavers and dyers; indigenous Quechua weaver Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, founder of Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco; weavers from Chinchero in the Cusco region of Peru; and weaves from Jano Handicraft Cooperative in Ethiopia and much more.
The Heritage Textile Exhibition ‘The Ancient Texts’ takes place 15-25 June at Centro Cultural Can Balaguer, a ten-minute walk from Es Baluard Museum of Contemporary Art. Textiles include narrative-rich weaves by Gastón Ugalde whose work Marcha por la vida – a massive ‘patchwork’ of traditional Inca and Aymara blankets – was part of Bolivia’s pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, the raffia art tapestries of Mallorcan artist Adriana Meunié, and textiles from indigo dye artisan Takayuki Ishi who has recently worked with fermented indigo dye specialist Aboubakar Fofana. Talks, workshops and a World Hope Forum event (founded by Dutch designer Li Edlekoort as a manifesto to radically rebuild society after COVID-19) hosted by Parmar and Echavarria complete the compelling range of opportunities.
Although XTANT creates welcome opportunities to buy and sell textiles, the importance of the event focuses on sustainable growth for the people, cultures and legacies of traditional weaving. Cultural practices need to be supported with living wages and fair market prices in order to allow these practices not only to survive but to thrive. XTANT is an important voice in this global discussion.