Last week I visited the installation ‘I Do Not Expect to Be a Mother But I Do Expect To Die Alone’ by Olek, a Polish artist based in New York who’s first UK Exhibition is at Tony’s Gallery in Shoreditch. The gallery had gathered much publicity through various inches in the columns of commuter reads – The Metro and Stylist Magazines. The bright colours and the continual surprise factor that knitting has moved beyond dodgy jumpers from nana, to fibre arts, will surely bring curious audiences to Tony’s Gallery.
I think it’s that evocation of knitting and crocheting as comfort, as generational relationships, as domestic and private that is played with, and subverted, in this installation. Household objects are given bright, crocheted skins, to such an effect that the familiar becomes phantasmagoric. The shape of a telephone seems to blend into the wall and the dressing table on which it stands.
As I entered Tony’s Gallery I was asked to remove my shoes. Of course this is for practical reasons, to preserve the crochet, but also it evoked rituals of visiting someone else’s house – preventing traces of the outside from entering inside. As I consider knitting as a practice I begin to think more and more of boundaries. About inside/outside, public/private, home/away and domesticity/leisure.
It seems that rather than knitting crossing boundaries from one to another (from knitting in the home to knitting on the tube) there are far more complex geographies and spatial politics at play. The metaphorical affordances of knitting to weave, to unite, to loop, to stitch offer a way of exploring the complex politics of space in the new practices of knitting and crocheting. We might begin to look at how the private becomes public in the act of knitting on the tube, or in a café – but these geographies are looped, knotted and build a texture of place in the process of making. They connect beyond binaries and boundaries.
Olek will show at Tony’s Gallery until 23 March 2012.