Talk Is Cheap
In the latest edition of that rag hali(winter2014) there is an underlying theme, one which RK can only remark: “talk is cheap”.
In his editorial ben evans tries hopelessly to don the mantle that is irremovably draped around RK shoulders; one that surely is not his, or anyone else’s.
For it has been RK and only RK who first lamented the fact carpet and textile collecting has been and continues to be a dying pursuit.
This situation is unmistakable, and RK has for a decade or more publicized the causes and reasons that have precipitated it.
Frankly, RK could care less evans and that rag hali have finally woken up to the fact and are trying in their usual ass-backwards way by fitting it into their entirely self-concerned and motivated agenda.
What we do care about is the fact by doing so they are doing absolutely nothing to change, or even ameliorate it.
But they are not alone, RK can see no one else doing anything either.
This issue’s lead article is the re-opening of George Hewitt Myer’s Textile Museum, something RK has also made a subject of our commentaries.
Well, not exactly, as we have discussed the decade long dismantling and destruction of this august institution at the hands of its board of directors and chairman bruce, big-mouth, baganz and not heralded its reopening.
We need not dwell on the inept and feckless actions and decisions baganz and the other stiffs on the board perpetrated to cause its demisal and the resulting “marriage” of Myer’s Textile Museum(TM) to George Washington University(GWU).
Calling this a shot-gun marriage is truly apt, as under baganz’s leadership, his blatant failures and grossly inept attempts to shepherd the Textile Museum into the future, which let’s all remember was his mission, resulted in this desperate marriage with GWU.
One could also be correct calling it a last ditch “marriage of convenience”, as after a decade of baganz’s failures the TM was left with no other alternative other than shutting its doors and letting its collection continue to be fodder for succeeding generations of moth larvae.
So now we have big-mouth baganz and that rag hali, which mind you never uttered a word concerning baganz’s failures to do anything, braying how the move to GWU will “invigorate” the TM and propel it into a “new” glorious future.
Oh, and part of that glorious future will be the move’s supposed ability to get young people involved in carpet and textile studies and appreciation.
Might sound good on paper to anyone who is far more naïve than RK and others that know how difficult this is, and will prove to be.
In fact, RK doubts other than perhaps a one-time traipse through the museum that will be as close to carpet and textiles any of the 20,000 plus GWU students will get.
And what about the general population that live within a 50 or 100 mile radius?
Well, again, considering the TM’s former location was only several miles away from the GWU campus how many of these people bothered to come then?
Of course the coming publicity of the TM’s re-opening will bring some of them out but RK sincerely doubts the alleged “new improved” TM will be able to convert many, if any, into a viable new audience.
Along side the TM re-opening is another lead article, the report of the recent exhibition in the Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule (University of Art and Design) of the kelim collection belonging to Hamid Neiriz.
This exhibition, held in the German city of Halle, has already been well reported as another sign the carpet and textile world is “making inroads” to cultivate a new audience, particularly younger people.
But before commenting on this illusion we must state RK knows well Herr Neiriz as we visited his former and now closed rug and kelim gallery(Gallery Neiriz) on several of the trips we have made to Berlin over the past two decades.
In fact we even remember seeing several of the kelim in the exhibition, which were at that time for sale and shop inventory. Now they are supposedly his “collection”.
Like the situation with michael franses claiming pieces he formerly and publicly offered for sale are now his ’private collection”, it seems Herr Neiriz has taken a page from the same playbook.
But regardless of whether the kelims were galley inventory or his private collection, the illusion students and an alleged newly minted younger audience were/are turned on and tuned into kelim appreciation by the Neiriz Halle exhibition appears to RK to be just that … illusion.
Pictures taken on opening night, and this issue’s review by that rag hali’s senior editor Daniel Shaffer who attended , speak of the young people who were there.
But might RK ask how many of them came back for a second look, or more importantly how many were stimulated enough to do further study, or even more importantly how many became budding young kelim collectors?
RK surely doesn’t know but our knowledge of the carpet and colleting scene -- past, present and future – leads us to believe at best one could count them on the fingers of one hand.
Museum exhibitions are surely a very, very important stimulus to bring interest in antique/historic carpets and textiles to a new, and younger, audience.
But, and this is a big well-proven but, alone carpet exhibitions in museums are not sufficient to galvanize a new population to gravitate into this field and art area.
What is needed is scientific proof and information to back up assertions about these artworks.
Without verified and proven signatures the greatest art masterpieces – whether by Rembrant, Van Gogh or Andy Warhol – are worthless and would not garner any eyeball interest.
Let’s face fact: It is the connection to these recognized masters -- like Rembrant, Van Gogh or Warhol -- that make them great in the public’s eyes.
Doubt this and you prove you know nothing about the art or museum world.
The same is needed for antique/ historic carpets and textiles, especially those made outside the courtly environments of the Ottoman and Safavid dynasties.
So that's the real situation, and since there is no historical evidence that has yet appeared to support claims about historic carpets and kelim the only method to prove signature is invasive forensic scientific testing and using that evidence for database building.
This is the real work that needs to be done, and RK has been promoting this for decades with absolutely no success.
Simple: Doing this takes real work, real imagination and real expertise – qualities that are severely lacking in the carpet and kelim community.
Believe it or not it is easier to build a new Textile Museum than it is to begin the hard, laborious work of forensic scientific testing and database building.
That’s why a carpet-cretin and schmuck like big-mouth bruce baganz got a new TM built, but will still face the same obstacles to get anyone interested after the glitzy opening parties and publicity have faded and been forgotten like Christmas tree ornaments on hot July afternoon.
But unlike those ornaments, which will be unboxed and appreciated each December, the new TM and that rag hali’s allegations the carpet and textile world is making inroads to an alleged new and younger audience will not be so lucky.
In closing this new audience will never happen until verifiable signatures of importance are attached to these woven art works made by now, unknown, anonymous masterpiece weavers.
Unfortunately words like “great” kelims or the “dynamic selection” of kelim that display “primal power”, which littered Shaffer’s review of the Halle kelim exhibition as well as countless other reviews and carpet world publicity accolades, have proven pointless and worthless when it came to generating any new, real and lasting interest among a new audience, whether young or old.
The proof, as someone once said, is in the pudding and regrettably the carpet and textile world and community have proven, and still prove, unable to bake a cake that anyone but themselves is interested in eating.
More of RK’s take on the new issue of that rag hali to come … stay tuned