For the 2023 edition of the Basel Social Club we are pleased to present Sónia Almeida’s Racket, 2023, an intricate textile work suspended from the ceiling, alongside related works on paper and canvas. Intended to be viewed in the round, Racket, 2023 comprises a variety of cotton, wool, and polyester fabric swaths stitched together, including a prominent section of netting, custom woven jacquard panels, and two handmade booklets that perforate the textiles from both the front and the back. Sónia Almeida’s practice often pulls from (and pulls apart) systems of communication, such as call-and-response music, dialogue between two or more participants, and notational methods of conveying or obscuring language. Racket, 2023 explores unexpected links between the experiential senses, and the ways in which we interpret structures and information that we cannot see.
Beyond our standard five senses, Almeida is fascinated by kinesthesia, a sixth sense that allows us to keep track of where our body parts are in space. A sport like tennis relies on spatial awareness, while also functioning as a game of communication between players. Almeida began unraveling the nuances of the homophone “racket”, using the word as an entry point to investigate what it means to listen and participate in a dialogue. Beyond the tennis racket, a “racket” is also defined as a loud, disturbing noise. Within the human ear, thousands of hair follicles work to amplify sound and grant us the ability to hear. Once these cells are damaged, often due to loud noises, they cannot be repaired. One section of Almeida’s Racket, 2023 features a jacquard weaving depicting a scientific illustration of both external and internal components of the human ear, a diagram that, although biologically accurate, can often feel detached from the experience of being able or unable to hear.
Materially complex, Racket, 2023 features two handmade booklets which perforate the jacquard panels. For Almeida, these material and symbolic gestures chart the core relationship between thinking, sensing, and moving our bodies through the world. Almeida’s adjacent works on paper and canvas emphasize these concepts by functioning almost as external hyperlinks of the main text that is Racket, 2023.