In what will be my last “a textile poetics” post, I return to some familiar themes or where I started: tactility and weaving and language. This time, I proceed by way of a weaving and writing workshop I lead in Kuwait, an essay by Tyrone Williams on ecopoetics, a brief consideration of Susan Howe’s work, and a mention of a lecture on exile by Costica Bradatan. Also on my thought horizon: a project I am working on called “last book” which is a drawing sequence accompanied by a book of random, highly excerpted entries from twelve years of notebooks. This book will be “published” with no cover art, title, author, other marks of publication, and will be made — printed locally — in an edition of 99.
Textile thinking leads quickly to thoughts on labor. Why? Because making cloth is an ancient art, because garment workers are always on labor’s front lines, because a garment surrounds us, houses us. We absorb the energy of the conditions of its making. So, too, with buildings. In this commentary, I consider cloth, garment workers, and transnational labor awareness. Then, I move on to architecture, buildings. As a garment houses us, buildings also do, and their walls have been set, built up, finished by workers’ hands and hands that operate machines. The carpet is laid. The chairs are unwrapped. Key card access is programmed.
In weaving—from basic hand weaving to mechanized looms—the direction is back and forth, left to right and right to left and again. Other actions take place between these movements: a stick lifts one set of threads up and down to create a shed through which the shuttle moves across. Heddles—through which various warp fibers are threaded in order to create patterns—lift and fall in various sequences.
Last week I questioned the idea of “a woman’s text” and I foreshadowed this week’s textile poetics commentary by touching on the feminist desire to legitimize handcrafts within the world of art as perhaps comparable to the idea of of “a woman’s text” that needs advocating in literature.
At the On Kawara show at the Guggenheim New York, at the New Museum downtown, in the MoMA’s contemporary galleries, and its “The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World” exhibit, I notice many instances of a poetics of making situated in textiles. This is exciting to notice, and it may have been there all along. It is my awareness that has changed. Pictured above, for example, is an obvious seam: a crucial sewn element in the work of contemporary painter Oscar Murillo, whose installation I will write more about in this commentary.