Before we wear them, our clothes make journeys of tens of thousands of miles in their process of production, making textiles the most globalised industry on the planet. The whims of the style minded have set in motion a global industry that is reshaping developing economies half a world away. Unravelled is a film and collaborative textile that reveals the way traditional indigenous craft techniques are being put at risk by the fast fashion supply chain, as it begins in the cotton fields in India, and stretches through textile mills, dye yards, garment factories and shipping ports.

The film depicts the sacred procession of a young Indian textile worker walking slowly through a series of dramatic scenes, from her home village amongst the cotton fields, to the textile mills and factories of the vast textile industry. Her journey suggests the walk along the fashion catwalk, the path our disposable fashion takes in its global production and the path so many women like her have taken in moving from village to the factories of the city. As she walks she is gradually wrapped in a glistening gold textile as it undergoes a series of transformations – weaving, dyeing, sewing, pressing – until she is completely cocooned, standing at the container port, amongst the mega ships that will export to the west.

The textile is made from a gold thread produced in collaboration with the last yarn producer of this type in the world and its raw metals have been collected, smelted and refined from the rusted metals of the old container ships in the Indian shipbreaking yards. It is woven by hand with a pattern produced by digitally translating into a binary graphic the voices of its makers, the last generation of master weavers, whose craft is being swept aside by the accelerated efficiency of global manufacturing. The stories and skills of these dying makers have been encoded and archived in the very material that has been fundamental in their destruction.

Unravelled, 2019
Unknown Fields
In collaboration with the Architectural Association
Film directed by Unknown Fields and Tushar Prakash
Director of Photography Ravi Kiran Ayyagari
Starring Monica Jha
Textile designed by Unknown Fields and produced in collaboration with Shashi Kant/Varanasi Weavers and Artisans Society
Supported by CCCB and the Graham Foundation

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