Sandra Binion

the beauty of something ripped
May 11 – June 18, 2022
at the Alliance Française de Chicago

the beauty of something ripped is a series of fourteen photographs celebrating the unintentional beauty arising from the scars of time-worn fabrics the artist has encountered by chance in museums, churches, palazzos and chateaus over several years. Sites include the Louvre Museum, Archives National in Paris, Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Ca’ Rezzonico in Venice, and the Cathedral Saint-Lazare in Autun, France. Bearing the traces of those who’ve touched, sat on, or knelt on them — perhaps without a second thought or perhaps with profound fervor — these textiles map lifetimes and mysteries. Many of them also point to the ambiguities of display and patrimony, being tattered and ignored furnishings in otherwise opulent environs.

The fourteen photographs in the series are archival pigment prints mounted to aluminum composite board, 18 x 24 in., printed by Document, Chicago.

A 32-page bilingual French-English book designed by Sam Silvio includes the fourteen photographs, the artist’s meditations on the subject, and an incisive essay by art historian Scarlett Reliquet, entitled The Stuff of an Artist.

“For an artist, plunging into the weft of the ancient fabric through the focal length of the lens is about not only the vagaries of time but also the silence of those human beings who were the first to use this faded decor…. This natural wound inflicted on fabrics, sometimes sharply split, tells the story of our vulnerability, our finitude…. If there is any question of violence in Sandra Binion’s photography, it is the violence engendered by a gentle and natural death adorned in its most beautiful finery.”
- Scarlett Reliquet, excerpt from The Stuff of an Artist

Alliance Française de Chicago
810 N. Dearborn Street - Chicago, Illinois 60610
312.337.1070 -
Free admission and open to the public.
Monday and Friday 9:00am - 5:00pm
Thursday, Wednesday, Thursday 9:00am - 8:00pm
Saturday 10:00am - 1:00pm

Opening Reception: May 11 at 6:30pm
With special musical guest composer/pianist Shi-An Costello playing a 25-minute program that will include works by F. Chopin, H. Cowell, V. Cuong, C. Debussy, and S. Costello (premiere).

Panel discussion: Friday, May 20, 2022 at 3:00 pm
Panelists include: Scarlett Reliquet, art historian, Director of Cultural Programs at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; Nick Lowe, Professor of Historic Preservation, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Gillion Carrara, Adjunct Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This project is made possible through the generous support of D. Elizabeth Price and Lou Yecies, in association with Experimental Sound Studio, Chicago.