BIEN symposium

Textile heritage
Tuesday, June 1, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Recording of the lectures:

The two-day symposium of BIEN Biennial of Textile Art presents practices and authors working in the field of textiles. The first day of the symposium presents topics working in the field of textile heritage, and the second day focuses on sustainable approaches in textiles, namely in practice and research. With the exception of the last two presentations, it will be held in English.

Zala Orel is the initiator and producer of the BIEN textile art biennial, and since 2014 she has been working as the program manager of Layer House in Kranj.

The Biennale of Western Balkans initiated Art Pluriverse, an annual Community Science series aiming to uplift intangible cultural heritage and empower communities of practice in the Balkan region, by documenting their artistic heritage and traditional knowledge in open, educative and participatory ways. The 1st edition, Textile Month, was dedicated to textile communities and their artistic heritage in Greece and the wider Balkan region. Textile Month supported the co-creation of research-based artworks through the Artist-Community Synergies and the development of digital community archives based on the FAIR principles through an online course. The programme culminated in the creation of a 3D virtual exhibition, an online map of Βalkan textile communities and recently released an open-access zine publication. 

Artemis Papageorgiou is a media artist and curator exploring the convergence of natural and computational systems inside the urban landscape, through interactive installations, playful architectural devices and textiles. For the past decade she has collaborated with museums and festivals internationally, while on a city level she has worked for the Open Design School, Matera European Capital of Culture 2019. Artemis has led numerous learning programmes on art, architecture and technology and has spoken in various symposia including a recent TEDx talk. She holds a Diploma in Architecture from the Dept. of Architecture, Univ. of Patras and an MFA in Computational Studio Arts, from Goldsmiths, Univ. of London. She is currently Associate Curator at the Biennale of Western Balkans. 

Katerina Zachou is a museologist and a cultural manager working as an exhibition organiser at the European Cultural Centre of Italy and an associate curator at the Biennale of Western Balkans. She was selected for the NEON Curatorial Exchange Programme 2020 in London, organized by the Whitechapel Gallery and the NEON Foundation. Katerina received an MA in Museology and Cultural Management from the School of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, AUTH, and a BA in Greek Philology from the School of Philosophy, University of Ioannina. She has organized cultural events and implemented educational programs in museums and cultural institutions as a museum educator. Part of her interests are visual anthropology,  sound ethnography and food culture.

Elli Leventaki is an art historian, a curator, and a PhD candidate at the Department of Theory and History of Art in the Athens School of Fine Arts. She is currently a curator at the Biennale of Western Balkans, while simultaneously collaborating with independent art programs, art spaces and artists as a freelance curator. Elli has written numerous art-related texts for exhibition catalogues and scientific purposes, and she systematically participates in conferences and lectures in Greece and abroad. She is particularly interested in art, politics and gender.

Mariana Ziku is the co-founder and programme curator of the Biennale of Western Balkans, where she works in promoting intangible cultural heritage through art, technology and open knowledge. She is a PhD candidate in the Department of Cultural Technology and Communication, and research associate at the Intelligent Interaction Research Group in the University of the Aegean. She holds a MSc in Digital Humanities (Dept. of Computer Science, KU Leuven) and MA, BA in Sciences, History and Curation of Art (School of Fine Arts, University of Ioannina). She is an advocate of open knowledge and open GLAM, with particular interest in digital participatory and community-based practices in art and culture.

The industrial heritage of textile factories with a predominantly female workforce is perhaps less visible than the heritage of male-based heavy industry in the region of South Eastern Europe, but it is nonetheless a very significant one, given that textile factories were one of the main sites of industrial employment for working class women during the socialist period. In this contribution Chiara Bonfiglioli will focus on workers’ narratives of pride about the success of their factories, and on the ways in which such narratives were mobilized to reclaim dignity in the aftermath of deindustrialization and post-socialist transition, from the Sana textile factory in Novi Grad, to the Arena knitwear factory in Pula, from the Makedonka factory in Shtip to the Leteks factory in Leskovac. 

Chiara Bonfiglioli is a Lecturer in Gender & Women’s Studies at University College Cork, Ireland, where she coordinates the Masters programme in Women’s Studies. After obtaining a PhD from the Graduate Gender Programme at the University of Utrecht, she held post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Pula, and the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna. Her research addresses transnational gender and women’s history with a specific focus on the former Yugoslavia and Italy. She is the author of Women and Industry in the Balkans: The Rise and Fall of the Yugoslav Textile Sector (London: I. B. Tauris/Bloomsbury, 2019).

With the socialist era, not only the entire textile industry disappeared, but also unique textile models and forms of textile propaganda. Jan Bejšovec’s art brand Konfliktstoff collects representative objects and fabrics and also includes them in art. The artist will present a selection of historical East German propaganda routes and his works of art. He will explain the combination of old but authentic fabrics with modern textile art by analyzing his paintings.

Jan Bejšovec (1975, Freiberg in East Germany) is an artist who dedicates himself to textile art and, in addition to paintings, also creates installations and objects. The main theme of his art revolves around political or historical issues. Jan Bejšovec lives and works in Berlin. Under the label Konfliktstoff Bejšovec often deals with political and social issues. The graphic and sometimes provocative depiction is deliberately opposed to the textile medium. The use of genuine fabrics or materials, such as military camouflage or vintage fabrics, contributes to a variety of motifs. In addition to numerous political statements, Bejšovec refers in his works to the old traditions of textile arts and crafts in a powerful, military or propaganda context. In historical spaces, he also tries to draw attention with textile installations in public space.

Ig: @konfliktstoff

In addition to the fastest growing stalactite structures in the world, the Sitarjevec mine in Litija is characterized by the yellow color of the tunnels. Yellow mine sludge is also a source of pigment. In order to experience visitors in the mine, to get closer to new tourist products, they designed patterns for textile printing, which are from the natural and cultural heritage of the mines and its surroundings. The monochromatic print in the color of mine mud depicts cracked drying mine mud, the form of a cinnabarite crystal, water droplets, essential for the formation of stalactite structures, the imprint of a seal and a map of the mine with the logo. The samples are printed with pigment from the mine on souvenirs and overalls – the protective clothing visited by the guides around the mine is put on before they go underground.

Darja Rant (1985) graduated in 2010 in textile and clothing design at the University of Ljubljana. She has participated in international exhibitions of textile works in Denmark, Finland, Italy, Serbia, Spain and Russia. The product Soap mosaic: felt soap with Slovenian national embroidery was presented in 2015 at the exhibition of modern innovative products based on heritage in Slovenia entitled From hand to form in the Carinthian Gallery of Fine Arts in Slovenj Gradec. In 2018, she defended her doctoral dissertation in the field of textile design. She specializes in textile design, felting, knitted structures and printing, combining the scientific field with artistic approaches.

Globine slojev / Depth of Layers is an interdisciplinary project in which five authors (geologist, painter, video artist and textile and clothing designer) investigate and artistically interpret historical materials related to paintings. Based on a review of canvas samples of unrestored works by Leopold Layer under an electron microscope, they created a research-visual exhibition of painting, textile and video interpretations of microscopic images. In doing so, they emphasize the special role of textiles in world art, as they present canvases as works of art in their own right.

Mateja Golež (1966) graduated in geology at the University of Ljubljana in 1991. In 1999, she also completed a master’s degree in geology. In her research path, she focuses on the conservation and restoration issues of preserving historical materials, from which in 2019 she also defended her doctoral dissertation at the University of Nova Gorica.

Marija Jenko (1961) graduated in architecture from the University of Ljubljana in 1985. A year later, she became a graduate of fine arts, after which she completed a master’s degree in graphic arts in 1990. She works in various fields of artistic creation, most recently in the field of textile design and art, for which she studied at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. Her graphic works are in the collections of the Albertina in Vienna and the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.

Anja Jerčič Jakob (1975) completed her painting studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana in 2000. At the same academy, she completed a master’s degree in graphics in 2004 and painting in 2007. Since 2016, she has been employed as an assistant professor for painting at the Faculty of Education, University of Ljubljana. She has been actively present in the Slovenian and international art space, especially as a painter, since 2000. Her works are represented in numerous public collections of national museums and galleries. She also occasionally works on book illustration for children.

HeritageLab is a comprehensive incubation program that develops the potentials of the local cultural heritage step by step. It is intended for young people from small and medium-sized places who want to build innovative business ideas and services with a new understanding of heritage. The program provides support in the form of mentoring, market research, test environment, and community with the goal of producing a thoughtful and reasoned business model, a team development plan, and an improved and tested product or service. It is an award-winning solution and the winner of the European Social Innovation Competition 2018, organized by the European Commission.

Sustainable approaches and textiles
Wednesday, June 2, 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Recording of the lectures (in Slovene):

Darja Malešič is playing with the revision of the traditional weaving craft, in response to the search for sustainable solutions in design.
With the first product, a braided water bottle, it focuses on the use of local and sustainable materials such as corn husk, willow and rye straw. Willow is a renewable resource, we use only the growth of branches. Corn husk and rye straw, however, are actually waste generated by growing the plant for food purposes. The bottle wrap, which is 100% organic, is naturally composted after the end of the life cycle. The bottle is easy to recycle. In collaboration with weaving masters who still possess these rare skills, products have been created to support a waste-free life.

Darja Malešič has been working in the fashion industry since 1997, when she completed her master’s degree at the Royal College of Art in London, majoring in Fashion Womenswear. She has designed for luxury fashion houses such as Dolce & Gabbana (5 years), John Richmond (4 years) and others. She has been gaining ground in the creative sector since 2018. She focuses on exploring solutions to the key challenges of the fashion industry, in particular on issues of ethics, sustainability, the circular economy and inclusion. She presents her design contributions at prestigious international design fairs such as Berlin Design Week 2021, Dutch Design Week 2020, Vienna Design Week 2020 and Milan Design Week 2020.

Ig: @flowe_water_bottles

Fb: @flowewaterbottles

Benedetti Life is an award-winning fashion brand that has been ranked, along with Stella McCartney, among the top 5 luxury vegan clothing brands in the world, among the 20 most promising by Vogue Italia and among the leading eco-friendly and luxury brand at Pre-Oscars gala, Red Carpet Green Dress in Los Angeles. Also, Benedetti Life won the title of “Best Sustainable Luxury Brand of the Year” at the Eluxe Awards in London and developed an ecological collection for world-class football goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Benedetti Life has been reported by many media in Vogue, Grazia, New York Times, Elle, Fault, Nylon, L’Officiel… Currently, world-famous people such as Ashley Benson, Nicki Reed, Australian actress Jessica Mc Namee and many others dress up in Benedetti Life.
This year, as a curiosity, the recycled bottle dress, for National Geographic, was worn by the first Afro-american woman who travel all over the world, Jessica Nabongo.

Matea Benedetti is one of the few sustainable fashion designers associated with the concepts of beauty, luxury and innovation. Matea began her career as a costume designer for opera houses and theaters. In 20 years of experience, she has gained international recognition for her creative and innovative work. Her works have been presented at fairs and exhibitions in Milan, Paris, Los Angeles, Kuwait, … and seen among the elite of Hollywood and the Italian Fashion Chamber of Commerce. Throughout her successful career as a costume designer, she has shown her passion for sustainable fashion, and in 2014 she began experimenting with her first organic fashion brand. Since 2019, she has been the owner and creative leader of the sustainable, luxurious and animal-friendly fashion Benedetti Life, with which she is paving the way for the global market. Matea is also a motivational speaker advocating new, sustainable and ethical approaches in the fashion industry. She teaches fashion design at the Faculty of Design in Ljubljana. Her goal is to be part of the bigger picture – the one that puts humanity on a higher level of consciousness to nature and all forms of life.


Fb: @Benedetti Life

In this paper, she will present her work as an independent textile designer through the perspective of an intimate / personal approach to design in the context of globalized textile production and consumption. She will describe why and how she does what she does, and why it is so very important to her. She will talk about what pushing and visual exploration mean to her intimately, why the English word “imprint” is very close to her and how she tries to achieve recognition among her clients in the usually extremely competitive industry. Most of this, unfortunately – simply because of the encouragement of cyclical consumption, which is at the heart of this industry – cannot be really sustainable at the moment.

Andreja Špegel is an independent textile designer. She studied textile and clothing design and psychology, and in 1996 she earned a master’s degree in printed textile design from the Royal College of Art in London. After her master’s degree, she got a job at the John Miles Partnership textile studio (London) and has been working independently since 1998. Creates conceptual proposals for prints and graphic images for clients in the field of fashion, interior and trends. Lacoste, Givenchy, Prada, Akris, Rue du Mail, Christian Dior, Guy Laroche, Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Liberty of London, Jakob Schlaepfer, Création Baumann, Kinnasand, WGSN, Peclers Paris and IKEA are just a few of them.

Happy to have spent her childhood in her grandmother’s garden, backyard and kitchen. The garden was a place where grass, walnut, cherry, apple and hazel were. Where the vegetable gardens were, including hers, and the paved paths between them and the green bench under the wall. And a wooden fence by the road. They were playing with the neighbors in the yard. In the kitchen, Grandma cooked and baked. And knit and crochet. On holidays and birthdays, the table was ceremoniously set with hand-embroidered tablecloths and swayed with home-made delicacies. It is an image that contains everything that is still important to her today. An outdoor space that is both wild and tidy, a house that is full and fragrant, and a table that is beautifully laid out and on which are artificially prepared things that have grown on your land. This image is today an almost unattainable ideal, but at the same time a soft prospect of opportunity, if only we dare to take life into our own hands. Literally in your hands.

Nina Vastl is an architect and has been planning single-family houses throughout her career. The single-family house inspires her as a basic unit of living, which is both very simple and at the same time very integrated. After all, transforming a house into a home is a transformation that still contains a bit of magic for her. Magic and skills similar to when you weave fabric from thread… And it was this magic that led her to start creating in addition to architecture a few years ago in her workshop, which she named Mojdom. Mojdom is a place where she goes back to her beginnings when she was a small child and marveled at the beauty that human hands can create. Mojdom is her core.

Fb: @Mojdom @Nina Vastl 

Ig: @Nina_Vastl

Destilator is here to infuse the society with inspiring ideas and practical solutions.
For small and big moves for the better future.
They are just drops in the sea. But ones that trigger waves.
Recycled products and services instilled through an ethical – ecological filter.
Destilator deals with sustainable ways of living, working and producing.
Because it believes that this is the best way to make sense and make it righteous. Destilator’s boiler is most passionately heated by practical original ideas that save piles of rubbish that are not in front of the landfill and reduce the production and use of new raw materials.
Destilator are shoes, wallets, buttons, clothes, bags, frames, furniture, interior design and other things that make our lives easier and more colorful.

Maja Modrijan is sustainable designer, producer and pedagogue in culture. During her studies, 2001, she did her last clothing shopping and began to actively engage in textile design with an increasingly recyclable concept. After graduating (professor of fine arts; USE OF ART), she focused on versatile product sustainable design. She co-created the Smetumet team for 8 years, and in 2017 she created her own brand Destilator. Because she loves to research, experiment and invent endlessly. It seeks solutions and products for everyday life needs and habits that are a better alternative to existing ones in social, ethical and ecological terms. Preferably by getting dirty. And with that, it also says something.

Zala Orel is the initiator and producer of the BIEN textile art biennial, and since 2014 she has been working as the program manager of Layer House in Kranj.

There are several driving factors for textile recycling, including the pressures towards sustainable development and green growth in European countries. The reduction of textile waste can lead to significant reductions of environmental impacts as the textile industry produces large quantities CO2 emissions. In the second place, textiles require indirect inputs such as water (200 litres to a kg of synthetic fibres and  8000 litres to a kg of cotton), energy  (100 litres of petrol to produce one kg of fibre) and land.  An American or European consumer requires around 600 m2  of land a head to satisfy their annual fibre needs. Cotton requires irrigation, takes water away from human consumption and with a high use of pesticides, it contributes to the pollution and salinization of soil. A new circular economy concept is urgently needed: from textile waste towards chemical and textile industries feedstock.

Humans have always been fascinated by colours and introduced them into their lives through dyed textiles, which were used to display a status symbol, attract attention, or add aesthetic value to products. Due to the introduction of synthetic dyes, dyeing became easier, faster and it was also possible to dye synthetic fibres. Fast fashion and the lack of wastewater treatment regulations in third world countries made dyeing one of the most problematic industries in the world. This contribution will present solutions for sustainable dyeing of textiles, from pre-treatment to dyeing, non-hazardous synthetic dyes, water-free dyeing methods and dyeing with natural dyes.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Marija Gorjanc received her PhD from the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering at University of Ljubljana in 2011. Her pedagogical and research work focuses on textile materials and dyeing, especially on the sustainable processes of plasma textile modification, synthesis of nanoparticles using natural compounds, development of cellulosic materials from waste, dyeing and printing of textiles with natural dyes and pigments. Since 2019, she is the head of the Chair of Textiles and Clothing Engineering, is mentor of two PhD students and leader of research projects. She has co-authored 53 scientific articles, published one scientific monograph and her work has been cited 481 times.

Among textile fibres, biodegradable fibres present only 36.8%. Their increasing is essential for production sustainable textiles and clothing. The amounts of natural fibres will not increase significantly in the future due to limited agricultural lands and water resource problems. An increase in the amount of man-made cellulose fibres is expected. The largest raw material base – virtually unlimited – for biodegradable fibres in the future are residues of the food processing industry and waste food, together with biodegradable packaging. Development of new technological processes are needed to produce sustainable textiles suitable for fast fashion and haute couture without harmful consequences for the environment. A few examples are already available today.

Assoc. prof dr. Tatjana Rijavec is a lecturer at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Engineering, University of Ljubljana. She is expert in the fields of structure and properties of textile and high-performance fibers, textile composites and the clothing comfort. Since 2012, she has been the editor-in-chief of the Slovenian professional-scientific journal Tekstilec.

Jasmina Ferček will present the essential findings of recent years on the positive impact of textile handicrafts on the well-being and health of women. The historical connection between textile production and women creates the basis for which women are still involved in textiles today. In most cultures, the production of textiles, in addition to caring for children and the home, was their main activity. Through textiles, women expressed themselves and through the manufacturing process reduced personal pain, shared their burdens, and strengthened resilience; in doing so, working in a group naturally strengthened their community. More and more research confirms that creative activities with textiles have a positive impact on well-being, quality of life and health.

Mag. Jasmina Ferček graduated as a textile and clothing designer at NTF OTO. In the past, she worked as a costume designer on various Slovenian stages, in independent dance productions and in film and television productions. She is self-employed in culture, pedagogue, producer and designer at the Ministry of Culture. Together with colleagues from Oloop author group develops design products, leads participatory projects and projects aimed at the psycho-social strengthening of vulnerable women’s groups through creation with textiles. She is currently upgrading his knowledge at the Faculty of Education, where she is completing her master’s degree in Help with Art. She leads independent art-therapeutic practice, as well as workshops and trainings, where she uses elements of help with art.