crochet body project

A writer and art educator sets out to crochet a full-body self portrait.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

inspiration from Andrea Zittel

An artist friend of mine, Christine, recently reminded me that I need to include another influence here: Andrea Zittel. While working in an art gallery, Zittel came up with the idea of creating a "personal uniform" that she could wear every day, thereby eliminating the hassle and expense of maintaining a large wardrobe. This spurred a series of "personal uniforms" that grew increasingly simplified as she imposed constraints upon their creation. One series is the "single strand" uniform, which she crocheted (sorry, but I could not find any clear digital images of those--they're toward the back of the installation pictured). I remember seeing the Zittel show at the CAMH and being particularly enchanted with these pieces. Although I am a big fan of her work, I bought the show catalogue mainly so that I could have a good look at her stitchery any time I wanted.

Zittel's uniforms are the convergence of visual art, design, craft, performance, and conceptual art--and that convergence is part of what fascinates me. I'm also wondering how my crochet body will become a convergence of several aspects of art and craft.

While Zittel's uniforms are, in a way, tools for presenting oneself to the world, my crochet body conceals as much as it purports to display. The nudity of the crochet body is also deceptive; it is really a covering for my body. I will not be nude while wearing the nude crochet body, even though my crochet body will be created as a nude. The nude crochet body will cover my own nudity.

The crochet body is more akin to a mask than a uniform, I think. Already, when I put on the practice head, I feel imbued with a certain sense of freedom and elevated humor that one gets from wearing a mask--even though it's a mask of myself.

This, perhaps, is what has always drawn me to performance: the chance to play myself as a character. I'm a very shy person face-to-face, but am never shy about speaking or performing in front of an audience. At an early age, I found comfort in making people laugh because then I knew that they weren't laughing at me, but at my performance. They were laughing at what a character, a version of myself that I invented on-the-spot was doing, and therefore I was protected. I could divert derisive laughter by causing amused laughter. I'm sure that's the story behind many a ham like me.

I've been thinking of ways to incorporate performance into this piece. I have several ideas, but need to "sit on them" for a while to see what hatches. And of course, I need to actually finish the body before I can perform it.


Blogger Ms_McEntire said...

love your project and explanations.
i'm also inspired by ms. zittell, but am alienated by some of her critical distancing or emotional distancing from "craft".

thanks for sharing
-megan mcentire

4:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home