installation with three handwoven textiles, 90 × 120 cm each, wallpaper, glass shelf and yarn labels, 2019
Binding 1, 90 x 120 cm, wool -Volnarski Kombinat Teteks, Tetovo -Yugoslavia, 1981; Binding 2, 90 x 120 cm, wool -Sloga, Zrenjanin - Yugoslavia, 1970; Binding 3, 90 x 120 cm, wool -Iteks, Ilok - Yugoslavia, 1969
Ground Bindings (Nada, Gizela, Tereza) is based on research into female labour in the context of the textile industry in former Yugoslavia. The work weaves together stories of three maternal ancestors with the history of three types of yarns. Weaving and the exchange value of its direct material outcomes were closely linked to the way each generation of women in Benjocki’s family managed to survive during different historical times: during the Second World War, during the time of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and its violent breakup.
In textile production, the ground bindings are the basic weaving patterns upon which all fabric is made. The three bindings in this work are handwoven. The yarns used for the production of work were made in the leading textile factories in former Yugoslavia between the ’60s and ’80s: ‘Sloga’ from Zrenjanin (present-day Serbia), ‘Iteks’ from Ilok (present-day Croatia) and ‘Teteks’ from Tetovo (present-day North Macedonia).
The woman working at those factories enjoyed numerous social benefits including free health care, paid holidays, housing and education for their children for subsidised prices. After the violent disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the factories went bankrupt. The transition to liberal capitalism resulted in the erosion of all social programs and rapid factory closures have left many women unemployed or working for multinationals at wages insufficient to sustain their livelihood.
The yarns used in the work are different types of white, woven in three basic binding systems: plain weave, twill and satin. In plain weave cloth, the warp and weft threads cross at right angles, aligned so they form a simple crisscross pattern. Each weft thread crosses the warp threads by going over one, then under the next, and so on. The twill woven cloth is made by passing the weft thread over one or more warp threads then under two or more warp threads and so on, with a step between rows to create the diagonal pattern. The satin weave is characterised by four or more weft yarns floating over a warp yarn, four warp yarns floating over a single weft yarn. These floats explain the high lustre, unlike the other weaves. The plain weave, twill and satin are the fundaments of weaving. Benjocki sees weaving as a way to suspend time and as a way to give it shape. She started working with a loom from a desire to restore the connection with the past of her female ancestors but also with the emancipatory past of the city and country she grew up in.