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, April 18, 2011

Mail Art Show Update & Ruminations about Writers vs Embroiderers

Here's the blogsite for the mail art show I sent something off to recently. It's nice that they make everything available for viewing online, though many of these call for touch as well. Haptic/synaptic.

I've been thinking of the seeming decorousness of textile arts, especially as feminized as they are in our culture, and how this often displaces, or plays a strangely adjacent role, to inner wildness. Adrienne Rich's "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers" hints at this but in a compensatory, diminishing way; Aunt J is clearly less than she should/could be. Why should this be? The sock-yarn named Iggy Pop (see, for example, seems sorta ridiculous, but then think of the lady knitting far into the night, listening obsessively to Raw Power, as i did when weaving at the IAS a few years ago; it's trance music for a trance activity. It's creative and violent in its own way. The dark night of the soul becomes the cute baby socks or the dangerous punk fashion style accessory, lovingly made with artful design. Tragic histories are hidden behind sumptuous textile creations. The drama of rock and roll sublimates as much as the lace, linens and embroideries of altar cloths and torah covers...

The people writing such texts as "Aunt Jennifer's Tigers," or Henry James, who, in a devastating last sentence, condemns a "spinster" to disappointed, bitter life-solitude (""Catherine,... picking up her morsel of fancy-work, had seated herself with it again — for life, as it were."), are writers. Maybe they see their own activity as superior to, or more expressive than, these women's "fancy-work," in a typical gendered division not only of social prestige (writing is "head-work," needlepoint is "hand(i)work"), but of the permission or assumption of the right to express anger or any powerful emotion. But perhaps I'm being unfair and it's more the case that there is a positive–or, more likely, ambivalent and ambiguous– identification at work: that Rich and James understand themselves and their subjects as involved in the same kind of sublimation that constitutes this kind of hobbyist, minor manual labor, concentration, freeform improvisation, cultural expression.

1 comment:

  1. hey maria--

    i saw these photos of embroidered eggs and thought of you . . .

    becky p