Elena Berriolo

Sound and textiles, sound and writing

The sound of textile-making draws the maker in. When it is handwork — the click of knitting needles, the pull on a skein of yarn, the swoosh of the shuttle across — the sounds of textiles extend the body of the maker out into space, making a wider territory. When the machines of textiles are sounded, this is another soundscape altogether, invoking, to some, profit and progress. To others, this textile machine soundscape is distress, underpayment, monotony, even danger.

In this commentary I want to urge us to conceptualize the senses as interbraided. And if we do, then maybe one of the reasons we write is in order to sound but the sound I am referring to does not have to do with language’s sign, an utterance, or our poetic voice.

Elena Berriolo: Transcription of Piero Manzoni's Infinite Line with Sewing Machine

Nothing could be more purely poetic than the line, so it is perhaps less a metaphor than usual to think of Elena Berriolo's performance as a reflection on the verse line. Charles Olson was once asked, how long is a line? He put his chalk to the board and ran a line to the end and continues, chalk in hand, to walk out of the room. Berriolo's work had something of that quality, though more whimsical: I was reminded of Mary Poppins flying with and umbrella as well as 1960s performance work by Charlotte Moorman or Yoko Ono. Or then again, as the line flew away in the sky, the sky writing poems of David Antin.

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