> A Gross of Chullos, 2012 – 2013

A Gross of Chullos

This project started as a response to an invitation to take part of the exhibition Remesas: Flujos Simbólicos / Movilidades de Capital, curated by Rodrigo Quijano in 2012.

In its initial phase, twelve dozen, or a gross of hand woven chullos (traditional Peruvian hats with ear flaps) where purchased in Lima. They were exported to London where they were scanned, registered photographically and then un-knitted one by one. After this process, each image was printed using black and white ink on accountancy paper. Then, they were hand coloured with pens to complete the pictorial representation. The resulting works are a pile of wool formed by the 144 un-knitted chullos and 144 hand coloured prints in accountancy paper.

The chullos, typical hats that have been used since pre-Hispanic times, are an ancestral symbol of the Peruvian Andean culture. These garments are now mass-produced and sold in artisanal markets to tourists.

The action of un-knitting the chullos after being exported to the UK and converted into art, questions the economic value of the artisanal labour in contrast to its new value as art.

The emphasis on the mass production of this work speaks to the commercialisation of cultural heritage and the exoticisation of these symbols when converted into products of mass consumption as Peru increasingly develops an economy around international tourism. The use of accountancy paper highlights its serial production and its commercial purposes. The paper, which says Balance General (General Balance), is almost discontinued, also reflecting the near extinct era of manual labour superseded by technology.

The re-materialization of the chullos through its pictorial representation also analyses the variations in serial production. Although all the hats appear similar, none of them are the same as, being handmade, the combinations in their colours and variations in pattern is almost infinite.