Real-time Documentary Embroidery in Holon

The city of Holon recently hosted a unique art project that uses embroidery to foster community and — this being Israel — the exchange of ideas and opinions, too.

Embroidery, one of the oldest forms of craftsmanship and cultural expression, got a new twist last week with the presentation of the Real-time Documentary Embroidery project in Holon’s Jessy Cohen neighborhood.

The brainchild of artists Barcelona-based Vahida Ramujkic and Aviv Kruglanski, the project invites residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods in cities around the globe to document their lives using embroidery. In Holon, as they already have in Cairo, Belgrade, Barcelona, Bristol and other urban centers, the duo set up a stand on a street corner and invited passersby to join them in meeting, talking and embroidering together.

Real-time Documentary Embroidery, as Ramujkic and Kruglanski define it, is stitchery without pre-planning or sketches, and poses “a challenge in the field of drawing, regarding the representation of reality.”

“The inbuilt slowness of passing a needle and thread through the material limits documenting ability, and forces the people embroidering to be selective and accurate in isolating elements from the surrounding reality.”

“At the same time, it also allows them to spend time together, as guests and hosts, to form a group in which opinions and impressions are exchanged.”

Israeli-born Kruglanski and Belgrade-born Ramujkic (she describes her place of origin as “a country that no longer exists”) set up Real Time Documentary Embroidery out of an interest in folk art as a means of social communication. “We get together to embroider, forming a group in which we exchange opinions and impressions. Our activity attracts the attention of passers-by.”

“Intrigued by our work they approach. We let them intervene, adding their suggestions and point of view. “

Using the simplest of materials and teaching the basic skills of the craft, the artists aim to provide their pupils with “a heightened capacity for observation, for perceiving social dynamics and for learning.”

The Holon project, sponsored by the Center for Digital Art, ran from June 20 to July 7 with the final tapestry presented on July 9th. To learn more about the Real-time Documentary Embroidery project, visit their website.

About Rachel Neiman

A veteran media professional who has lived in Israel since 1984, Rachel has been part of the ISRAEL21c organization since 2008. Prior to that, she served as managing editor of Globes Online, the English-language edition of Israel’s leading business daily, and before that, at The Jerusalem Post, as a business reporter, feature writer, and consumer columnist. Rachel began writing about Israeli technology companies at LINK Israel’s Business and Technology Magazine and is a professional Hebrew to English translator. In her spare time, she is an active member of the Havurat Tel Aviv congregation, and the Holyland Hash House Harriers, part of an international running and drinking disorganization.