The Great Bare Mat

Series encapsulates

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston (2012-2013)

The piece was designed as a carpet for the staging of conversations, and installed at the feet of “The Vinegar Tasters”, a two-fold 17th-century Japanese screen from the Gardner Museum’s collection. “The Great Bare Mat” gains inspiration from two exquisite Han bronze bears, mat-weights (2nd century BC) China that served to weigh down carpets on which debaters would sit and argue philosophical points. Woven by a team of women Bulgarian weavers of the Rodopski Kilim Carpet Factory, Bulgaria, the carpet features a repeated motif that indexes the constellation of the Ursa Major (‘Great Bear’) against a background of signals, and conversations between the three computers of Raqs, and the world. The carpet was removed and unrolled in the centre of the Calderwood Hall at the ISGM (uniquely sound stacked by the architect Renzo Piano) for each of the conversations.