LEE Mingwei Fabric of Memory 2006 one

LEE Mingwei
Fabric of Memory 2006
Mixed media installation
Platform: 640 x 5000 x 5000 mm
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial International 06
Courtesy of the artist and Lombard Fried Projects, New York
With thanks to all those who submitted items for the work and Stephan Freid AIA, New York
Photo © Tate, 2006 © LEE Mingwei

Many of LEE Mingwei’s works exist as situations in which participants explore issues of trust, intimacy and self-awareness. So when the artist discovered a rare trait in the people of Liverpool to initiate conversations with strangers such as himself, and confess all, he felt quite at home.

Fabric of Memory taps into this tendency and reveals how personal histories can be captured by objects. Lee invited local residents to lend hand-made textiles, typically items of clothing made by and received from a family member during childhood. Both maker and receiver were asked to provide a history of the item, what memories they have of giving or wearing it and what feelings it now evokes. Placed in individual boxes, each object is accompanied by its two documented histories. The viewer is invited to open each box, share in its memories and recall their own.

Tactile, scented and kept for years, handmade textiles have the potential, perhaps more so than any other object, to hold highly emotive, personal narratives and to embody something of the person who made it. Lee himself recalls an anxious first day at kindergarten and the comfort he got from wearing a jacket made by his mother.

There is a web-based component to Fabric of Memory. A online database has been developed – as a partner piece to the gallery work – to which anyone, anywhere can upload images and memories of their personal items. Lee will view and publish the submissions throughout the duration of the Biennial. Follow the link above and please share your memories with us.