How are interaction, knowledge sharing and co-creation with others possible when we are prevented from meeting face to face? Covid-19 and prolonged lockdowns suspended free mobility just as Helle Rude Trolle was about to meet up with new international collaborators to exchange and develop ideas in a network of like-minded specialists interested in dyeing with natural blue dyestuffs. The dyed blue yarn and a process conducted without face-to-face encounters formed the source of inspiration for Trolle’s Biennale project, ‘Keep Connected’.
In this project, the missing physical encounter was replaced with packets that were sent back and forth between destinations in the United States, Finland, Japan, Norway and Denmark. Packets of yarn dyed in rich and varied shades of blue, which Helle Rude Trolle turned into an eight-metre-long weave in Denmark. The piece consists mainly of loose threads that are only woven at the top and at the bottom – held together in the beginning and the end. The loose threads are held together in a free, open flow, as connections that bring the differences in colour shades, geography, nationality and culture together in a middle ground. ‘Keep Connected’ highlights materiality, tactility and all the sensory experiences that the digital realm does not offer. As such, the piece is a reflection on the material and professional dialogue that must be preserved, even if it may have to find new modalities.
The textile artists involved in the project are Hilde Hauan Johnsen, Norway; Catharine Ellis, USA; Lauiri Pirita, Aalto University, Finland; Naturel indigo Finland; Margaret Dugger, USA; and the indigo dyers for BUAISOU indigo, Japan.