The Benign Offering 1
Embroidery with found rayon yarns
7cm x 8cm
Thai Nguyen, Vietnam
For generations, indigenous communities in Northern Vietnam have safeguarded Sacred Forests from human interference. In 2017, the Vietnamese government officially recognized sacred forests as a distinct land category under the law. Prior to this recognition, numerous sacred forests had been cleared for agricultural purposes. These forested areas hold significance beyond their spiritual value; they serve as repositories of valuable natural wisdom and reservoirs of biodiversity. Among the H'mong people, these trees are affectionately referred to as "father and mother," while other communities offer prayers to honor the spirits residing within these venerable trees.
Amidst my tenure within the fashion and textile realm, the zeitgeist embraced sustainable wood-derived fabrics – rayon, viscose, and lyocell. Yet, a disconcerting truth unraveled: the frenzy for these materials, driven by Chinese demand, ravaged Indonesian forests. A pivotal visit to a modest knitting factory revealed heaps of yarn and thread slated for incineration, shattering my complacency, and I forsook the fashion world.
From those discarded threads, "THE BENIGN OFFERING" was birthed. Rayon yarns, witnesses to human consumption and abandonment, converged in this tactile testament. Their journey from nature's bosom to human hands, through modification, trade, and eventual disregard, found an eternal resting place in this altar. It stands as a tribute to the forests that succumbed to humanity's cravings, a manifestation of my devotion.
Enshrined within a lingering spider's web amidst the forest's embrace, this fragile altar beckons as a call to mindfulness, a gesture of contemplation. As the eminent textile master, Shimura Fukumi, imparts, "If we still our heart enough for the lives of trees, and grasses to reach us, we will realize of our own accord how precious they are."
The Benign Offering 2
Embroidery with found yarns
Tả Phìn, Sapa, Việt Nam
Once, a stand of towering pine trees adorned the landscape of Tả Phìn, their shadows dancing alongside table-sized quartz stones that adorned the earth. Amidst this serene tableau, my collective sought solace, retreating to this sacred space during our indigo dye research and development expeditions.
One year's passage cast a poignant transformation. I returned to the healing grove to discover an altered reality – half of the sentinels felled, their presence forgotten by many, their guardianship dissolved into anonymity. In the footsteps of time, their origins blurred, and the essence of these trees dissolved from local memory. Who were the architects of their demise? What stories did these trees shelter within their embrace? The very essence of their silent voices now hangs in the balance, carried by the wind to distant corners.
Through these meticulously embroidered leaves in red, I conjure a vision of their plight – the arteries of their existence bleeding as their roots cling tenaciously to the earth, even in death. Their remnants stand as whispers of the resilience of life, an echo of the beauty they once embodied.