Exploring Textile Transformations with Magnum Photos for our 2023 Competition
Every textile item has an origin story. And yet, our collective appreciation of textiles often centers around the product itself, rather than where it came from, who created it, or what it has come to mean. Textile Exchange’s 2023 Materials Matter Photography Competition, in partnership with Magnum Photos, called on photographers to explore unexpected perspectives on these everyday items, uncovering the way we transform textiles, and how textiles in turn transform us.
The second edition of Textile Exchange’s Materials Matter photography competition, in collaboration with Magnum Photos, invited emerging photographers to share a project under the theme “Textile Transformations.” This year’s brief explored the visual stories that take place when fibers and materials are cultivated, created, spun, woven, sewn, loved, and cherished – gaining cultural and emotional significance through the journey.
The competition saw over 500 photographers from over 70 countries share their interpretations of the multitude of ways in which we transform textiles, and textiles in turn transform us. By placing these themes at the center of the story, the resulting 8,000 photographs reframed the way we relate to their social, cultural, and environmental implications, helping to alter our attitude towards these everyday items.
Clothing and textiles connect us intrinsically to our planet and its many ecosystems, cultures, and communities. While each transformation brings cultural and emotional significance, our collective appreciation of textiles often centers around the product itself, rather than where it came from, who created it, or what it has come to mean.
Chosen by our jury including Aditi Mayer (Photojournalist, Sustainability Activist), Claire Bergkamp (CEO, Textile Exchange), Sonia Jeunet (Education Director, Magnum), Yessenia Funes (Independent Environmental Journalist), Emily Chan (Senior Sustainability and Features Editor, British Vogue), Lindokuhle Sobekwa (Magnum Photographer), and Peter Van Agtmael (Magnum Photographer), the winner and runner-up portrayed entirely contrasting relationships between people and textiles, highlighting both their incredible potential to transform communities and shape identities, as well as contributing to a societal model driven by consumption.
Kin Coedel is an analog photographer from Hong Kong who grew up in Canada. Having worked as a womenswear designer, and later as a fashion photographer, in 2020 Kin took a break to travel to Tibet, Mogolia, and India to explore the roof of the world and places that are essentially off-limits to Western cultures.
Coedel’s journey took him back to his own origins, as he set out to redefine how Eastern communities are portrayed. His work aims to go beyond being a voyeuristic lens, prioritizing genuine exchanges with local communities. Mindful of power dynamics and historical representations, the artist collaborates with translators to ensure understanding and consent, co-creating images that reflect authentic stories. His work challenges preconceptions, inviting viewers to engage in meaningful dialogues about the traditions, struggles, and triumphs of these communities.
Dyal Thak, the name of Coedel’s submission, means “a common thread” in Tibetan. The project began with an assignment from Norlha Atelier, a womenswear label that specializes in handwoven yak khullu wool. This raw material, deeply ingrained in Tibetan cultural heritage, embodies centuries of traditional herding practices and craft.
Through this series, Coedel showcases the nomadic community’s sustainable herding practices and the stories that are woven into every thread, celebrating the transformative power of tradition preserved and revived.
As our 2023 competition winner, Coedel will receive an £8,000 commission for Textile Exchange as well as mentorship with a Magnum photographer. His works will also be displayed in an original exhibition at the 2023 Textile Exchange Conference in London, October 23-27.
Explore THE SERIES
Dyal Thak: A Common Thread
Berlin-based artist Madeleine Brunnmeier studied Visual Communication at the Berlin University of the Arts as well as at Musashino Art University Tokyo. Characterized by curiosity, explores both observationally and conceptually the relationships between individuals and their environment.
She often likes to work with places and things she finds without changing them, but pointing out the narrative she sees through the process of staging. Another big part of her work focuses on portrait photography where she recently discovered her joy in analogue working processes.
Brunnmeier’s competition entry, Gestalten, is a photo series of temporary sculptures, composed of people and all their possessions of clothing. Throughout our lives, our clothing becomes an archive – a mass of identity, culture, and memory.
We are constantly surrounded by textiles. Our clothes are an everyday companion, a second skin. By bringing these garments to the fore, Gestalten encourages reflection on the relationships people have with their material possessions.
As the competition runner-up, Brunnmeier will receive a £5,000 commission for Textile Exchange and mentorship with a Magnum Photographer. Her works will also be displayed in an original exhibition at the 2023 Textile Exchange Conference in London, October 23-27.
Explore THe series
Gestalten: A New Narrative on Clothing Consumption
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