SIVAN ZEFFERTT

Artist Room | Depth Perception

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EXHIBITION TEXT

Artist Room

01.10.22 - 05.11.22

Cape Town

It can be easy to forget that the first ever computer was a loom. Our entire digital world was born from this ancient machinery, which has changed very little since it was first developed. Through this device, languages were built; understood not by the human ear but by the machine. This language is code, and Zeffertt uses this code to read, write and draw in thread. Like orthographic anomalies, singular changes in the structure of this code create visible glitches, which cut through the landscape of the cloth, breaking the motion and playing tricks on the eye. The perception of depth is both created and interrupted through this glitch poetry, translated from the hand through colour to be read by the viewer.

The patterns in the shadow weave of Sivan Zeffertt’s delicate hanging pieces rely almost entirely on their highly contrasting colours to become visible. No cloth is truly flat, and while we could often be forgiven for thinking so, Zeffertt makes a strong case for this point. Through each step on the treadle, and each movement of the hand, dimension is built. As the cloth grows it becomes spatial: fictional landscapes of which only a small portion can be viewed at once. Zeffertt often returns to the words of writer Nan Shepherd : “The thing to be known grows with the knowing”. This sentiment is echoed throughout her process, as depth is created slowly, not only through the overlapping and intricately woven thread, but through the interaction of solid lines of varying colour, triggering our memories of basic colour theory.


The creative process of weaving is held within its own constraints. Once a piece has begun it must be completed, since cutting it off the loom and continuing at a later stage is not an option. This means that only one piece can be created at a time, and it must be completed or discarded before moving on to the next. As the cloth grows, the excess is rolled away, leaving only the most recent progress visible to the weaver. Zeffertt thinks about her weaving practice as a walking practice, a process of discovering something new while walking the same well-trodden path. Here, she finds beauty in the nuance of each step, compelling her to continue.


Sivan Zeffertt does not think of these works as tapestries, which are so often flat and dusty against a wall. Instead, she sees the work as sculpture, born out of a deep respect for craft and the women who have elevated this practice throughout history, but finds a place beyond this sphere. The work elevates our understanding of material, skill and history. Cloth has a unique characteristic of being both two-dimensional and three-dimensional, able to take up space and fold away, inconspicuously. We are given the choice: how much to give and how much to take. The tension is held between the softness of the material and the idea of a monument - taking up space, liberating itself from the fold.

 
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