UNKNOWN: AUTHOR(S) | Tiffany Liew
‘Unknown: Author(s)’ uses the image of a tapestry under construction to communicate the complex and incremental nature of architectural authorship.
The collage foregrounds the subject of an incomplete tapestry: a collection of reused architectural elements, known as ’spolia’. It includes an ancient Greek figure from the Caryatid Porch and a detail of St Mark’s Basilica, the largest depository of stolen architectural fragments in the world. Both are prime examples of how building elements were stolen, recycled from other places and installed for narrative effect, challenging the intentions of their previous ‘original’ authors.
The tapestry design alludes to how it would be made with an anonymous craftsman behind the loom. Tapestry and architecture are both disciplines of craft involving the translation of a blueprint to a material outcome. For this work, the woman weaves together this common thread between these disciplines, which often goes unnoticed.
This idea of unnoticed authors brought to mind the concealed vertical warp threads, which support visible weft yarns in tapestries. For this reason, the image was turned on its side to align with exposed horizontal yarns for ease of material production - silk threads could be used to highlight the warp threads strung on the loom, which screened weaving artists behind. This would appear in contrast with the duller wool fibres for the spolia.
The issue of authorship inherently leads to questions of context, communication and of assembling materials in a way that produces more emotions than matter. Perhaps every tapestry or architectural output is not in fact masterminded by a blueprint or singular vision initially conceived. Instead, every product is an assemblage of materials with several narratives, and with each, our collective memory becomes ever-the-more rich.