Red and Empty

 “To offer an empty vessel is to pose a single question and to be ready to accept a huge variety of answers”. Kenya Hara

Red and Empty installation
Graduation work, Gerrit Rietveld Academie, 2015: BA in Fine Arts and Design with honours (Cum Laude)

Red is a controversial colour. Red attracts and revolts. Red is a colour of Life and Death – where dualities of passion, blood and revolution clash and become one.
Making a slit in an object’s surface creates an opening — a possibility to appear and disappear, just like the emptiness of a traditional Japanese house offers a possibility to fill it according to the need of the moment.

Alya’s end exam work Red and Empty – a series of textile works and a performance – was one of my positive surprises of the 2015 graduation. The work encompasses a series of clothing pieces, woven and knitted cloths and strings of wool: all dyed in different tints of red and arranged in an installation on the wall and in the space. In a tranquil performance two dancers interact with the textile objects, accompanied by a poetic reading. The textile objects temporarily transform into utility objects and clothing pieces.

Alya Hessy seems to draw inspiration from the work of conceptual artists as Rosemarie Trockel and the performative textile sculptures of Franz Erhard Walther, but her work retains its own poetic quality and tactility.

Suzan Rüsseler
Conservator Europees Textieldesign
TextielMuseum, Tilburg

 RED AND EMPTY is an installation of handmade textile objects, which are in constant transition. The performance takes them through a series of manifestations in relation to the human body, history, politics, philosophy and daily life.


Simon de Boer, Simone de Waart
Exam commission delegates
Gerrit Rietveld Academie
Amsterdam, July 2015

Every piece has its own story and is painstakingly handmade

Various cloths with slits are hanging on a long wall. Knitted, woven, printed, embroidered. Carefully arranged, they are hanging there in silence. The meaning is glowing under the surface. Sometimes a cloth appears to be a bag or a clothing piece. The function of the objects stays open and ambiguous. Red colour dominates the whole. A reference to politics, love, danger. The wall feels sumptuous. Different structures and shapes invite you to zoom in and touch. At the same time the wall is radiating tranquility. A beautiful and meaningful installation.

But there is more. Flanked by two models, Alya enters the stage. The objects on the wall become a part of a performance. The body and the object come together and the slit in the fabric plays the main part. Seemingly effortless, Alya connects Soviet populism with Japanese emptiness. Alya ignites a magnificent fire. As the “attributes” linger in the afterglow back on the wall, something unforgettable has happened.

Severine Amsing, Erik Wong
Gerrit Rietveld Academie
Amsterdam, July 2015

Final Thesis – Stripping for Emptiness

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