Saturday 21 January 2012

stitch / script

If choreography is designing ideas, emotions or narratives through movement, what of the objects created as a result of these movements? The installation Stairwell Suite (see previous post) at Siobhan Davies is made up of string held by dancers as they moved up and down the spiral staircase at the studios. The web like structure is the intermeshing of traces describing their movements. Can this be seen as a notation of the dance, or a physical translation of the ideas communicated through it? This is the question I’ve asked myself and invite the viewer to reflect upon when encountering the installation and accompanying film which features selected moments of the performance.

An insight to answer this question lies in the wall piece Stitching Score #1 (top 2 images) installed on the first floor. The piece consists of a 200+ meter long string of fabric, produced during Stitching Revolutions, an interactive project at Alexandra Palace, London, in 2010. This involved six people operating overlocking machines that cut and stitched the clothing together simultaneously. Arranged in a daisy chain formation, a silent conversation was had between the stitchers as fabric was fed from one machine to the next. The fabric, installed in horizontal lines, is shown as a record of the making activity and prompts the viewer to read these as a piece of notation, with its own unique grammar and symbols made up of stitch, thread and cloth. Not such a strange idea given the word ‘text’ comes from the latin textere, meaning ‘to weave’, and the word ‘line’ comes from linea, meaning a thread made from flax. Quoting Tim Ingold once again from Lines: A brief History - ‘if ‘line’ began as a thread rather than a trace, so did ‘text’ begin as a meshwork of interwoven threads rather than of inscribed traces’. This knowledge sheds a new understanding on both Stitching Score #1 and Stairwell Suite.

I periodically exhibit stitched, knotted and woven fabric pieces such as the Knitting Pieces or Garland series that result from similar communal making endeavours. With each install, the fabric is inevitably transformed and reveals new textures and surfaces as the weaving is further intermeshed or stretched out. The pieces have no fixed form or shape and chance determines to a large part their final appearance. Their narrative is thus constantly transformed, though ultimately these can only refer to the objects themselves, which the viewer interprets based on their own relationships to materials and processes. The work means nothing outside the perception of the object itself and, as with most text, meaning is often read between the lines.

On Friday 24th there will be a late night public stitching and weaving event at the exhibition. Click here for details. Lost property items left at the dance studios will be stitched on overlocking machines by members of the public, and weaving will take place in the stairwell, adding yet more content to the scripts and scores already displayed in the exhibition.

1 comment:

  1. It was lovely to see the dance performance, it was so elegant and beautiful. Mesmerising. Later I was thrilled to see Stitching Score #1 as I'd sat at one of the sewing machines on a sunny afternoon at Ally Pally participating in the sewing. I proudly told my friend Ptolemy that I'd been a part of creating that piece! I was scared of the sewing machine at first and unsure of what do do but then I thought, just do it! And I really loved it... Jenny x