MAMDP in The World is a Handkerchief project exhibition

The World is a Handkerchief / El Mundo es un Pañuelo, curated by Cecilia Mandrile and Claudia DeMonte:

“The World is a Handkerchief,” an international collaborative project of 50 artists, features a collection of handkerchiefs which explores notions of homeland, family, displacement, and identity. It will be exhibited at London Print Studio Gallery from 23rd May – 4th June 2019. Cecilia Mandrile and Claudia DeMonte will discuss how they conceived and developed the project at the closing reception Tuesday 4th June 2019.


The concept of the project is rooted on the age-old Spanish idiom ‘el mundo es un pañuelo,’ or as we may say in English ‘what a small world.’ It praises serendipitous encounters, moments of discovering personal connections in distant places or unexpected contexts. Celebrating such interconnectedness, and willing to nurture the disappearing tradition of the printed handkerchief, Cecilia Mandrile and Claudia DeMonte invited their mentors, students, and peer artists to share visual contemplations or personal stories on the various notions of homeland. They created a limited edition of 25 handkerchiefs each, asking each invited artist to produce their own handkerchief, and offered their creations in exchange.

Handkerchiefs—the foldable, portable, simple squares of cotton—have accompanied people in celebrations and farewells in many cultures for centuries, offered bodily protection and coverage, and sustained expressions of political tenets and spiritual beliefs. In “The World is a Handkerchief,” handkerchiefs become vessels of memories and itinerant narratives; containers of emotions; translators of wounds, signals of ideological resistance. Each piece epitomises a soft space for visual statements, to be carried as a tangible memento. Artists employed printmaking, painting, embroidery, drawing, and collage to capture their wandering, often disappearing recollections of homeland as well as reflections on displacement and identity.

“The World is a Handkerchief” will be presented in London Print Studio Gallery, and continue as a traveling exhibition in 2020. Alongside the exhibition, a community-based workshop has been developed, driven by the collaborative and nomadic nature of Mandrile and DeMonte’s art practice. It will take place at several locations in Argentina, Jordan, England, and the USA, including Zona Imaginaria Graphic Studios (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and the Centre for Fine Print Research, MA Multidisciplinary Printmaking Programme (Bristol, UK).

Following Cecilia’s visit to MAMDP in May, handkerchiefs made in the resulting workshop have been added to the exhibition and collection by: Theadora Ballantyne-Way | Ru Broadway | Prerna Chandiramani | Maria Galvez | Jennifer Gathercole | Ros Jarman | Josie Martin | Olivia Pratt | Alyn Smith | Zelda Velika | Verity Winslow.

Follow “The World is a Handkerchief” on Instagram: @theworldisahandkerchief

Cecilia Mandrile | Claudia DeMonte|