Can textiles be feminist?
Can they be political beyond the sense of cloth banners with written messages?
There is a lot of debate surrounding appearance and womens rights. This has started me wondering if cloth has anything to do with these debates, or is it only when transformed into a form that it takes on 'personality' and, as clothing, becomes a discussion point.
Hobbies or skills associated with cloth have many messages: Originally embroidery was a pastime used to occupy the minds of women in rder to prevent them from getting distracted by sex. This was then twisted back onto itself by women being seen to do embroidery to show that they had sexual thoughts that they needed distracting from.
The exhibition at the Women's Library in east London at the moment focuses in part on the clothing and craft skills women used during the first and second waves of feminism. Here now in the third wave, running concurrently with a resurgence in interest in handcrafts, it can be harder to tell what relates to feminism and what doesn't.
Can cloth be considered gendered at any point?
I will continue on this point later...
Cloth is a container. Literally, psychologically, symbolically and emotionally.
A container is a container. Literally, psychologically, symbolically and emotionally.
So, for starters, cloth is a rich communicator.
This is why it has attracted so much human time, care, analysis and investment.
The woven or knitted structure depicts the symbolic structure and the colours and patterns indicate the changing inflections of person, time, age, era, culture and mood. (These structures also relate to different ideas of pace - part of the Slow Fast rhythms and the discussions that are around today).
In the weave, we see the singular and the plural and this simultaneous experience and simultaneous symbol is deeply resonant in human beings and the human psyche. They resonate with feelings of individual/social and internal/external - this goes back to Plato and Aristotle).
More thoughts later.
See you soon.