Tatting, making lace through making knots, is the art of nots: the creation of negative space. What is lace but a decorative enhancement of negative space? Tatter, which is to "clothe in slashed garments" –how's that for a dramatic/poetic phrase?– is to invest someone in negative vestments, to disinvest, to divest. The slashes and gashes let the wind through, piercing to the bone with chill. The slashes in a garment let the air in, the slashes in skin let the lifeblood out. Iggy Pop slashed himself with glass, broken drumsticks and his own fingernails in the height of a Dionysian trance of performance, transported beyond a realm of physical pain. Until afterwards.
Knotting, notting (Nottingham was an industrial lace-making center in the UK until the 1960s, when they sent all their industrial lace-making equipment to China) is the creation of something (wearable) through the creation of nothing and vice versa. Is "knot" (or not) the past-tense of "net" the way "rot" is a past-tense of "ret," the process of wetting flax before turning it into linen? What does it mean for negativity to nonetheless be a creation of something tactile, palpable, generative? The dialectic, o yes, the dialectical dance, i'm entranced by its romance, how two make one and on and on.
Woman as negative space is a constant in the tropes and figures of Western expressive culture. The listener, the creator of domestic space through self-cancellation. "All I ever wanted was to make it good for you." It's not all bad. Listening is good; self-effacement means you can be a fly on the wall; strategic camouflage. Keeping someone warm, holding them in your holds and folds.
But the Tate is also the Father. "Tate/Shmate." A dad-rag, an ineffectual, feminized dad, like in Rebel without a Cause, wearing an apron/gladrag and washing the dishes. The absent father is the powerful father, mediated by his Name; the presence of the father vitiates his power; he's just a loveable fool/tool, boytoy.
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