Sewn up: visitors are invited to embellish David Medalla’s A Stitch in Time in New York

view at Venus Over Manhattan in New York
David Medalla's A Stitch in Time – currently on view at Venus Over Manhattan in New York – invites viewers to embellish the work by adorning it with messages, keepsakes and detritus. Pictured: installation view
(Image credit: Andy Romer Photography. Courtesy VENUS)

Standing on the elegant spiral staircase of London’s Apsley House, former home of the first Duke of Wellington, artist David Medalla is photographed holding a swathe of tattered yellow fabric. He faces Antonio Canova’s sculptural rendering of Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker, a heroic statue at almost 4m high, and a commissioned gift from Italian artist to French emperor until it moved across the channel following England’s victory at Waterloo. Medalla’s offering, modest by comparison, has likewise traveled through many hands: entitled A Stitch in Time, the textile work is adorned with messages, keepsakes and detritus sewn on by numerous collaborators. Pictured likewise before Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus and beyond, the piece is a kind of travelogue through history and geography, both within and outside itself.

Medalla, a Manila-born artist, world-traveller and pioneer of kinetic art, conceived of A Stitch in Time in the 1960s when he gave handkerchiefs to two ex-lovers in Heathrow airport, with instructions to embroider whatever they pleased; he encountered one of the cloths years later, carried by a backpacker from Bali to Amsterdam.

The ensuing series explores themes of time, circulation and chance encounters, and it continues at New York's Venus Over Manhattan, where a new iteration is currently in production (alongside an earlier 2013 version). Spools of coloured thread dangle over the nearly 8m-long cloth, so that visitors may add words, pictures or small items like receipts and candy wrappers. In this paranoid year of border restrictions and global distrust, Medalla’s utopian vision is a welcome homage to serendipity and interconnectedness.

pioneer of kinetic art

Medalla, a Manila-born artist, world-traveller and pioneer of kinetic art, conceived of A Stitch in Time in the 1960s when he gave handkerchiefs to two ex-lovers in Heathrow airport, with instructions to embroider whatever they pleased. Pictured: installation view

(Image credit: Andy Romer Photography. Courtesy VENUS)

A Stitch in Time

Standing on the spiral staircase of London’s Apsley House, Medalla (pictured left) is photographed holding a swath of yellow fabric, facing Antonio Canova’s Napoleon as Mars the Peacemaker. Pictured right: the original 1960s iteration of A Stitch in Time. Courtesy the artist and VENUS

(Image credit: Andy Romer Photography. Courtesy VENUS)

homage to serendipity and interconnectedness

In this paranoid year of border restrictions and global distrust, Medalla’s utopian vision is a welcome homage to serendipity and interconnectedness

(Image credit: Andy Romer Photography. Courtesy VENUS)

coloured thread dangle

Spools of coloured thread dangle over the nearly 8m-long cloth. Pictured: installation view

(Image credit: Andy Romer Photography. Courtesy VENUS)

The work on view at Venus

The ensuing series explores themes of time, circulation and chance encounters. The work on view at Venus is simply the newest version

(Image credit: Andy Romer Photography. Courtesy VENUS)

a history of keepsakes

The exhibition also features a history of keepsakes, ephemera and photographs of Medalla and his works

(Image credit: Andy Romer Photography. Courtesy VENUS)

INFORMATION

’David Medalla: I am an enigma, even to my self’ is on view until 5 August. For more information, visit the Venus Over Manhattan website (opens in new tab)

Photography: Andy Romer Photography. Courtesy VENUS

ADDRESS

Venus Over Manhattan
980 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10075

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