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Paola Torres Núñez del Prado

The Lost Code 2017-2019
Series of three works. 34×30 cm each.

Space Invaders, 2017
– Intervened unk’uña

Textile Collisions, 2017
– Electronic Embroideries applied over traditional Andean unk’uñas

Ruqyay Unk’uña, 2019
– Electronic Embroideries applied over traditional Andean unk’uñas

“We may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves”
– Ada Lovelace

The unk’uña, or istalla, is a small blanket used by women to carry coca leaves, food or snacks, and to pay homage to Pachamama (Mother Earth) during ceremonies such as funerals, offerings, and marriages. Made with fibre material or alpaca wool treated with natural dyes from stems, leaves, roots, or flowers, it is woven in various colours, with the four ends displaying fringed ornamentations that allow them to be tied more easily. Patterns, and recurrent designs that have traditionally been linked to indigenous tribes and to the feminine sphere are placed in a new light in Paola’s works.

The series consists of three unk’uñas originally sold as handicrafts for tourists in Lima and then modified by the artist. Through the use of sound visualization techniques, the patterns on the weaves form disruptive elements connected to the contexts and circumstances of their production. In each of the works these elements – considered by the artist as “disappearing voices” – are interwoven into the textile again, in processes that not only point to their disappearance (or degeneration), but that also implies an interruption into the tradition of these Andean weaves.

Although foundational for the development of statistics, the advent of computers, and the discipline of cybernetics (and their need for mathematical calculations and algorithms), patterns have been widely considered only as ornaments. Traditionally, they have mainly been used in circles considered non-scientific, either related to decoration or textiles, to adornments, or being associated to pre-modern societies, apparently separated from intellectual tasks. However, for the artist, these two spheres are intimately linked: a weaver would have a similar mental process to a mathematician or a programmer.

Paola Torres Núñez del Prado (b.1979) is an artist working in Gothenburg, Sweden.