Gali Cnaani, Unraveling Fashion

For the Israeli textile artist Gali Cnaani, the act of weaving must begin by unravelling. In her works, she starts by selecting second-hand garments that attract her visual attention. Her intervention begins by unravelling and deconstructing the seams and weaving, until the threads are loose. In a complex technique she developed, Cnaani then re-weaves the garments into a new fabric. The outcome is a distorted grid, a meticulously crafted homage to the tradition of textile-making.
Cnaani’s work is a complex and well-crafted comment on the reality of textile production today. Her raw materials are industrial clothes, anonymous garments made in factories somewhere around the world. In her work, she adds to the ready-made items the personal touch of hand-made garments.
She recovers the manual weaving techniques that were left out of the contemporary processes of textile production. In that way, she wrote in the catalogue of her solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2013), the return to tradition is also a path towards innovation. To find her own viewpoint, she has to deconstruct the original fabric and recreate it in her own hands. At the same time, she insists on maintaining a close link with the original garment: if the unravelling process would go too far, only a pile of threads would remain.
Some of Cnaani’s works are whole unravelled and reconstructed clothes, while other works focus on specific parts of the garment, like sleeves, cuffs or pockets. In this way she highlights the particular details that make an item of clothing, and integrates them in a multi-layered structure that emphasizes their complexity.
Cnaani’s creations emerge on the borderline between old and new, traditional and innovative, mass-production and hand-made. This duality is evident in her professional life as well. The Japanese traditions of weaving have been a great influence on Cnaani. She spent a couple of years learning their craft in the Kanazawa College of Art and Design, learning the complex technique of Kasuri, or Ikat dyeing and weaving. Yet alongside her passion for millennial hand-made weaving, Cnaani has always been fascinated by the industrial textile factories, and worked as fabric designer for men’s suits for the Israeli factory Polgat.