State of Fashion Biennale

Co-Curator 2024

The 2024 edition of the State of Fashion Biennale, Ties that Bind, was held in Arnhem between May 17th and June 30th 2024,  and curated by Rachel Dedman & Louise Bennetts.

This edition of the Biennale brought together creative practices in fashion, textiles and contemporary art from across the Global South. Ties that Bind critically examines notions of tradition, explores the political power of clothing, and spotlights alternative approaches to dominant fashion systems, through the work of artists and designers from all over the world.

At the heart of this edition of the Biennale is a decentralised structure. Ties that Bind has unfolded across four places: the home site in Arnhem, and three sister sites in Nairobi (Kenya), Bengaluru (India) and São Paulo (Brazil). In each place, an interlocutor-curator – Sunny Dolat, Kallol Datta and Hanayrá Negreiros – was invited to develop a project that responded to the Biennale’s themes from their perspective, embedded in their local context and community.

In Arnhem, Ties that Bind celebrates fashion in an expanded field, through critical creative practices from over 20 countries. Artists and designers hail from regions including South America, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South and East Asia.

The exhibition includes over 100 works spanning fashion, textiles, contemporary art, film, photography, and sculpture. Across four core themes, it asks: How are artists from the Global South addressing and contesting the colonial legacies embedded in clothing and cloth? How are designers evolving inherited traditions, and engaging with the urgencies of our time?

Dismantling Tradition 
In this first theme, designers from across the Global South revel in the rich textile traditions they inherit, from weaving to quilting, paper-cutting to embroidery. Many address the colonial violence that marginalised historic practices, challenging reductive stereotypes about local identity, and evolving these legacies for new generations.

Political Bodies
Works here address the relationship between clothing and the political. Historically, the textile trade was entwined with colonial exploitation, but clothing has also long been a tool of resistance. Artists and designers the world over engage today with the potential and power of fabric and fashion: to challenge stereotypes around identity, origin and gender, to reflect upon migrant experience, to address the legacies of conflict, and to speculate on the future.

Designing Integrity
This space highlights practices that are critically questioning exploitative global fashion systems and their impacts on the Global South. Combining creativity and innovation, designers across the world are pioneering novel solutions for waste textiles, supporting artisan makers, and prioritising transparency in complex supply chains.

The Fabric of Shelter
Cloth acts as the foundation for our social and material lives. Clothes are the changeable, ephemeral homes through which we navigate the world, and the works in this section of the exhibition reflect upon this idea: of textiles as refuge, as architecture, as home. These poetic pieces harness the familiar intimacy of fabric.

Across the local and global network of sites that collectively form this Biennale, the intention is to amplify the kinships and connectedness among artists and designers’ practices from all over the world, and to share the powerful human stories woven into what we wear.

The exhibition design is by Maison the Faux.

All images are by Eva Broekema.

More information can be found on the State of Fashion website.