In which are explored the matrices of text, textile, and exile through metaphor, networks, poetics, etymologies, etc., with an occasional subplot relating these elements to Iggy and the Stooges.

Monday, February 21, 2011

negative space

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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