Writing the Unspeakable

Installation with three hand-woven tapestries and handmade paravan, hand-dyed wool, linen and cotton, 186 x 144cm each, 2023

'Writing the Unspeakable' is a triptych with textiles made with hand-dyed wool, linen and cotton. Mobilizing the gendered associations of weaving to make palpable trauma and the process of healing ‘Writing the Unspeakable’ is a result of a laborious process through which Benjocki coloured yarn using walnut leaves just like she learned in her home town Zrenjanin, in Serbia. This city was known as one of the largest textile industrial cities in former Yugoslavia. The textile factories left a lasting impact on the geography, architecture, and the social fabric of the city. Many streets had lush trees which not only provided shade during hot summer days but also bore the fruits and seeds that were used in textile production. Such was for example famous mulberry tree, which was often found, whose fruits were used to feed silk worms. The walnut was used for food, while its thick membrane was used to colour the yarn. Women working at these factories enjoyed financial stability and social benefits. As the economy collapsed, and Yugoslavia plundered into wars and sanctions, Benjocki witnessed the erosion of social and political structures in her surroundings.

This work is her effort to restore the connection with the past by giving it a physical presence. It is also a result of her wish to connect to her female ancestors but also with the emancipatory past of the city and country, she grew up in.

To write in textile, I developed a typeface, using a double-sided block weave technique. The text 'Writing the Unspeakable' can be read in two languages (English and Serbo-Croatian) on both sides of the triptych installed as part of a room divider - handmade in oakwood.