Jessica Hemmings

Textile Writer

Reading Material

The Reading Material project attempts a step towards decolonising the Tropenmuseum archive by offering speculative voices for archival accessions through literary pairings with textiles held in the collection. The research approach proposes a triangulation of existing textiles with existing literature and new commissioned fiction and poetry.  This approach aims to unlock some archival silences by offering speculative rather than definitive voices for archival accessions with limited or partial provenance. Reading Material is interested in testing a playful triangulation between textiles and texts that span material and literary genres as well as geographies and languages. Multiple, rather than singular, voices are sought in an attempt to loosen the archive from a blinkered quest for accuracy through a single definitive historical voice. It is an intentionally eclectic strategy that moves from selected textiles towards literary voices, and from selected literature back into the archive in a search for combinations which do not exclusively privilege either the textile or the text.

Research is undertaken through the Rita Bolland Fellowship (2020-21) at the Tropenmusuem, Amsterdam.