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Futuro Textiles: fabrics get lighter than air

An exhibit at Futuro Textiles currently on display at Tecnópolis.
By Veronica Stewart
For the Herald

Tecnópolis hosts an exhibit or prototypes meant to shine new light on fibres

“I’m going to take a picture of this for my son,” a woman says excitedly at an exhibit in Tecnópolis. The park is big enough to house a plane without it looking that big. There are stands specialized in a wide range of topics, from technological simulators to a section dedicated to the world of Paka Paka. There’s a kart circuit, a recreation of a coal mine that shows you the work typically done 600 metres deep, and a “sound factory,” that is an area designated to make music with nothing but rubber paddles and strange-sounding posts and tubes. There are even dinosaurs, huge robotic reptiles that look upon you wherever you are in Tecnópolis. But this woman isn’t referring to any of that. What she wants to show her son is the picture of a fabric — silk from a spider in Madagascar, to be more precise. “It says here it is the most resilient fabric known today. It is five times more resilient than steel! I’m going to show this to my son and tell him not to kill a spider ever again, just in case.”

Like so many others at the exhibit in Futuro Textiles, this woman is fascinated by the variety of it all. Not only are there fabrics made out of the most unusual elements, but also usual elements that have been made into fantastic fabrics. There’s crabyon, a fibre made out of crab shell, which is surprisingly soft and has medical uses such as serving as artificial skin. There’s a violin made out of linen and a wooden dress, which combines model-making and origami, and is therefore subject to strange forms. There’s even a dress made out of wine, and one made out of cassette tape. The variety is so outstanding that people walk around reading the tags bellow each piece as if they were in a documentary and couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

Futuro Textiles is an invitation to discover the unknown aspects of the textile world. It is an exhibit of prototypes, and its goal is to “show that nowadays, textiles are becoming technical materials, innovative and smart,” as the banners read. It arises from a Lille3000 (the French city’s cultural programme) initiative, and is the third edition following the ones held in Lille in 2006 and Kortrijk in 2008, as well as an international tour. The exhibit has travelled all over Europe and, even though it has been updated for each edition, its message remains the same: textiles can be found anywhere.

Made up of three different rooms, the exhibit covers the textiles’ use in medical workspaces and in space missions on its left wing, and the more exotic and fashionable pieces on the right. The middle remains a place for the exhibition of fibres more so than finished pieces, and the home of two giants made out of parachute fabric. “It makes sense with the rest of the exhibit,” says Lucía, one of the guides. “It is one of the artistic interventions here because it uses a textile that has to endure the weight of a human body and the resistance of the wind, and proves it can be turned into something as ethereal as two sleeping giants.”

The theme of this edition of Futuro Textiles is that of lightness, which is why Lucía walks around with a sample of a Japanese fabric that’s thinner and softer than silk. As one of the attendees describes it when getting a hold of it, “this isn’t a fabric, it’s air.”

And that reflection, as spontaneous and exaggerated as it may have been, is actually a perfect summary of the exhibit as a whole. It shines a new light on textiles than that which illuminates runway shows. It proves that fabrics can be just as light as air, and just as present everywhere. Futuro Textiles goes to show that textiles are something far greater and richer than the overpriced shirts that look upon us from ads on the streets. Textiles are something we wrap around ourselves every day, just like air.

When and where

Until November 2, 2014. Tecnópolis (Juan Bautista de Lasalle 4341, Villa Martelli). Stand 36. Wednesday to Sunday, from 12pm to 8pm. Free admission.

@verostewart

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