Labours for colour is a new moving image artwork by Australian-Balinese artist Leyla Stevens, staged in response to Dr John Yu’s collection of Southeast Asian textiles and artefacts on display as part of the exhibition Upacara: Ceremonial art from Southeast Asia. The video weaves in a reflection on the diasporic condition of cultural objects, as they migrate around the world through collection practices. As a counterpoint lineage, documentation is shown of textile artisans on the Balinese island of Nusa Penida and the labours they enact to produce the cepuk style weaving that the island is known for. Moving through various stages of textile production, from the harvesting of plant dyes, to the final weaving, the video focuses on highly skilled gestures that bring these textiles to life. Through this interweaving of disparate places and processes, the video invites a consideration of the many hands that touch and shape a textile during its trajectory from ritualised object to collected artefact.
Leyla Stevens is an artist and researcher who works predominately within moving image and photography. Her practice is informed by ongoing concerns around gesture, ritual, spatial encounters and transculturation. Working within modes of representation that shift between documentary and speculative fictions, her interest lies in the recuperation of counter histories within dominant narratives.
You can download and read the companion text by Leyla Stevens below;
The Cube is a contemporary exhibition space featuring experimental and media work.
Image: Leyla Stevens, Labours for colour (video still), 2021, 2-channel video with sound, 16 minutes. Courtesy of the artist