The Third Line participates in the 9th edition of Abu Dhabi Art with a solo presentation by Hayv Kahraman as part of Focus: Beyond Territory curated by Dr. Omar Kholeif. The new works belong to Hayv’s latest series Mnemonic Object, where woven canvas becomes a means of negotiating subjective past memories that in their nature reflect a larger migrant collective.
A mahaffa—traditional Iraqi handheld fan woven out of palm tree fronds, was one of the few objects Hayv’s family brought along in the one suitcase they were allowed to pack when fleeing Baghdad for Sweden. The fan is today displayed in what the artist calls the “Iraqi corner” of the family home in Sweden and serves a mnemonic purpose. Its woven quality resurfaces in Hayv’s new paintings: while the female protagonists remain a constant, canvases are painted, shredded, and woven into one another.
The dissection of the linen not only reenacts past wounds; it also summons a sense of law abidance, or rather, a lack thereof, and stands in contrast with the subordination experienced by the artist as she moved to a small town in Sweden, where she carefully obeyed all rules and sought to excel. “When I cut my linen, I almost feel like I am doing something I am not supposed to do.”
The physical act of weaving, on the other hand, serves to bind those wounds and traces of the past together. As the bodies become interlaced, their life paths converge and memories synthesize. Hayv literally re-texturizes them, and although this process entails scarring, it ultimately leads to reparation.