The World is a Handkerchief exhibition in New York, 16 – 22 March 2020

Many thanks to Cecilia for organising the two workshops here and including MAMDP hankies in the show:


“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 the Blackburn 20|20 Gallery, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York City from March 16th to March 22nd 2020. Cecilia Mandrile and Claudia DeMonte will discuss how they conceived and developed the project as well as launched the limited edition catalogue at the reception on Thursday March 19th, 2020.


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.

Invited artists:

Victoria Arce, Guler Ates, Dotty Attie, Yuno Baswir, Sarah Bodman, Stephanie Brody Lederman, Joy Brown, Alicia Candiani, Matt Clay Robinson, Chiachio & Giannone, Tariq Dajani, Claudia DeMonte, Mariana Depetris, David Driskell, Eiman Elgibreen, Judy Glantzman, Joy Gregory, Hiroyuki Hamada, Sarah Hinckley, Maia Horta, Barbara Johnson, Laura Sue King, Katerina Kyselica, Lord Libretti, Eva Lundsager, Cecilia Mandrile, Ed McGowin, Jeannette Montgomery Barron, Keith Morrison, Erica Naito, Eduardo Padilha, Carinna & Grace Parraman, Alicia Paz, Jefferson Pinder, Alice Pixley Young, Boyo Quintana, Alex Rojas, Graciela Sacco, Soffía Sæmundsdóttir, Claudia Sbrissa, Berty Skuber, Marisa Tellería, Claudia Terstappen, Betty Tompkins, Sofia Torres Kosiba, Lucrecia Urbano, Kay WalkingStick, Katarina Wong, Aaron Yassin, Rocca Family, Rossana Zaera and Firooz Zahedi.

“The World is a Handkerchief” was launched at London Print Studio Gallery in June 2019 and continue as a traveling exhibition in 2020. Future venues include Bower Ashton Gallery, Centre for Fine Print Research, UWE, Bristol, UK and Fernando Bonfiglioli Fine Arts Museum, Argentina.  Alongside the handkerchief exchange, community-based workshops has been developed, driven by the collaborative and nomadic nature of Mandrile and DeMonte’s art practice. This exhibition will also feature the growing collection developed at Zona Imaginaria Graphic Studios (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and the Centre for Fine Print Research MA Multidisciplinary Printmaking Programme (Bristol, UK). 


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