Friday, 24 April 2009

ANZAC Day, (Deloraine) Tasmania 2009

Today is the 25th of April and possibly one of the most important days of the year for Australians, especially in terms of patriotism and history.
Today is ANZAC Day.

As part of an exhibition curated by Cat Badcock (distant relation!), titled 'Crafty', showcasing the work of artists using craft techniques to social commentary and activism:

Brief Project Background:
"With the rise of revolutionary knitting circles, stitch ‘n’ bitch craft groups and
renegade craft fairs, there has been a significant rethink of craft as domestic
imprisonment. Craft is now synonymous with sustainability, a stance against
mass culture and consumerism.

Craftivism is formed on the belief that ‘each time you participate in craft you
are making a difference...whether it’s fighting against useless materialism or
making items for charity’.

Craft collectives hope to increase participation in craft activism by offering a
different approach from the often intense, and sometimes hostile, modes of
activism most commonly associated with social justice movements.

One of the main values that these groups pioneer is the fact that activism
doesn’t have to mean taking to the streets in loud and hostile actions, it could
be as simple as placing a craft object in an unusual space or simply the act of
crafting."
-Catherine Badcock, 2009

The piece I am contributing to this exhibition is based on a trip I made to Bosnia i Herzegovina in 2005, where I found myself confronted with the physical scars of warfare (people walking through the streets with missing limbs and visible scars), as well as the more overpowering emotional and psychological scars from the traumas of conflict.

This is a photo I took in Mostar, not far from the Croatian border, showing one of the many hand written signs with the legend "DONT FORGET"...



I've been doing some visual research today as I complete this tea cosy, 'Teacosy* Number (Untold number of deaths?); Journey through the debris of conflict Cosy', 2009.
This Youtube video I found has left me speechless with incredulity...it potentially explains why conflict in the Balkans is so prevalent and volatile... You can see more films of death, destruction and mass graves in Bosnia and Serbia on Youtube.

I know it doesn't make for comforting and genteel tea time conversation, however, as part of my commitment to encompass as many aspects as possible from society and the greater human experience, The Teacosy* Revolution does not shy away from gruesome topics, especially when I personally need to process some acquired trauma from one of the most geographically beautiful and historically strategic countries on earth.


'Teacosy* Number (Untold number of deaths?); Journey through the debris of conflict Cosy', 2009

With this tea cosy artwork, I am not taking sides, only depicting aspects of what actually exists in Bosnia i Herzegovina and the ongoing ethnic unease which is seemingly ever present- with three such dynamic cultures sharing the same borders, there are bound to be disputes unless there is the desire to collectively look outside those borders at the bigger picture, I believe.


'Teacosy* Number (Untold number of deaths?); Journey through the debris of conflict Cosy', 2009

I don't claim to have any solutions, nor do I know enough about the region and it's intricate cultural mix...which is why I continue to research and investigate...knowledge is a good way, I have found, to overcome, accept and work with the traumas I have experienced, and more importantly to find physical and creative ways of expressing the trauma. I am really surprised that its taken me nearly 4 years to come around to this experience, to revisit it and work through and with it...and I can confidently say that I want to go back to Bosnia and spend more time observing and experiencing the amazingly intense culture that exists there.


'Teacosy* Number (Untold number of deaths?); Journey through the debris of conflict Cosy', 2009

I wish I did have some answers and some practical solutions to avoid future atrocities in the world...I definitely think though, that ignorance is one of the most destructive qualities on the planet, and that we all have a responsibility to learn, teach, love and share with each other everything we know.
There are always positives, we just have to look for them.

10 comments:

The Exton Gardener said...

Amen to that! I'm not surprised that it has taken this long to respond to the Bosnian experience. It's so outside our range of normal experience but it's somehow entrenched into our genetic or familial experience. It takes a lot of reflection and instinct to put it into some sort of perspective or manifestation.

This stark teacosy is not just the Bosnian war but embodies ALL conflicts. It's definitely photographed in the right place!

a good yarn said...

The Balkans have been at the epicentre of world conflict since at least Roman times. You'll stop war when you can stop people feeling aggrieved - about anything. Good luck with that. Guess it doesn't hurt to try.

Catherine Badcock's insightful remarks are *tres amusmant*. *Domestic Imprisonment* - it smacks of post 1970s academia and quasi-feminism.

"Craft is now synonymous with sustainability, a stance against
mass culture and consumerism. "

Did Cat read that somewhere or is that her own *pearl of wisdom*.

Has she ever been to a craft shop? It's a very shrine to consumerism. Of course, any self-respecting craft activitist wouldn't be seen dead in a temple of consumerism prefering instead to source their materials from other artisans, harvesting them from thrift shops and markets or perhaps directly from the environment itself.

A craft activist would surely never use plastics or synthetic glues or materials whose manufacture damages/has damaged the environment.

Ann.

Cat-Rabbit said...

Ann

It disappoints me that you feel you must judge me, my own crafting background and entire research project from a couple of simple quotations.

Indeed ‘She’ has been to a craft shop. ‘She’ has grown up with crafts; knitting, crocheting, embroidering, and understands the satisfaction of making something yourself instead of purchasing a mass produced article from an array of identical objects in a store. ‘She’ acknowledges, however, that consumerism is an unavoidable fact of life. To cut out consumerism is impossible - about as impossible as to, say, stop all war by placing a tea cosy at a memorial site.

Had you looked further into the subject, you might find that the values of craftivism do not outline a rigorous plan to rid the world of war, consumerism, and all those other nasty things. They do not boast anything so idealistic and downright impossible. Craftivists simply encourage a more positive environment by offering an alternative to violent protest and by modifying their consumerist habits.

Perhaps I am not yet seasoned enough to dispense any meaningful ‘pearls of wisdom’, but give me fifty years and I will hopefully still be encouraging positive craft movements, not quashing them with my ignorance and cynicism.

Maybe you could start a discussion with a vegan about the possibilities of synthetic fabrics instead of ridiculing the work of others by bandying about redundant terms such as ‘quasi-feminism’.

The new crafting community is an exciting rethink of how crafts can make a difference, however small a difference that may be. How can you begrudge us that?

Cat

Mlle La Revolution des Cache-Pots said...

Thanks everyone for the comments.

Ann, I did find your comments a little puzzling and aggressive. What is it that you find so threatening about contemporary craft practices, as we, the practitioners, continue to experiment with, explore and give new life to traditional forms of craft and hand made objects?

As you can see from Cat's comment-reply, there are simple and wholesome positives which are being pursued within the framework of the exhibition Cat is curating, and it is important for us, the makers, to have the chance to promote craft techniques as being more than merely cross-stitched samplers and friendship quilts (and I have absolutely nothing against these forms of handiwork at all).

Also your comment:
"The Balkans have been at the epicentre of world conflict since at least Roman times. You'll stop war when you can stop people feeling aggrieved - about anything. Good luck with that. Guess it doesn't hurt to try."

Yes the Balkans have been a site of inter-cultural conflict for millennia, well before Roman times, in fact. I agree that war may be averted when people can stop themselves feeling aggrieved about anything (this is not my job, we are all individually responsible for our own emotions and opinions).
My musings on how I can possibly make a difference with my work does not actually include this tea cosy, which is merely a 'vessel', an object upon which I have created a series of images which (in only a little way), are able to convey my responses to being in that part of the world and experiencing the grief and trauma of a whole country.

Its a fascinating topic, n'est-ce pas?

I really think the language of craft and craft techniques, in terms of who practices craft and how they practice it, is changing radically. Which is what Cat is referring to, I believe, with her comments, and it is what I respond to whenever I create anything.

I want craft techniques to become as highly regarded as fine art techniques such as painting and sculpting, and so an intellectual and academic viewpoint is most helpful when arguing in favour of craft as art.

I also think that its very important for a craft activist to use modern materials, to recycle plastics (such as an artist friend's crocheted tree doyley where she crocheted plastic shopping bags into a huge doyley around the trunk and base of a tree...it was a very beautiful artwork and really inspired a lot of thinking about alternate uses for waste products and unusual materials).

Have a lovely evening evryone!

a good yarn said...

Cat,

I take umbrage at your remark *ridiculing the work of others". I do not and have not done so. In fact I think that the pieces created by Tara, yourself and others are quite evocative and challenge the definition of craft. Tara's recent tea cosy is a fantastic example of that.

Is there really that much difference between a tea cosy, stuffed toy or flared skirt that makes a statement and a banner?

If, as Tara has done, made an object in response to an experience, as a comment on that experience - is it really craft?

Yes, I've read about the craftivism ideology of Betsy Greer and all about third-wave feminism; and I still object to the phrase "craft as domestic imprisonment".

Who had this idea? What is it based on? I can't help but think it diminishes the work of those who have crafted before.

Did young women really think that by knitting, crocheting or fruit preserving that they were on a slippery slope to the *bad old days*? Did they feel that they were damaging their feminist credibilty?

Do we benefit as a society if someone writes a thesis on crochet?

"Craft is now synonymous with sustainability, a stance against
mass culture and consumerism. "

I don't agree with this statement. Only some exponents of craft take this approach - one would like to think that craftivists do.

I agree that I can be cynical but then I've lived and learned long enough to enjoy the privelege.

I've have enjoyed our debate.

Ann :)

Cat-Rabbit said...

Ann,

**"Catherine Badcock's insightful remarks are *tres amusmant*. *Domestic Imprisonment* - it smacks of post 1970s academia and quasi-feminism.
 "Craft is now synonymous with sustainability, a stance against mass culture and consumerism. "

Did Cat read that somewhere or is that her own *pearl of wisdom*."

I find these remarks neither constructive nor helpful. While a certain amount of criticism is often necessary, this blog entry did not warrant such a personal attack. Sure, have your say on the subject matter – I relish your difference of opinion – but do you think it appropriate to stage a personal attack on a person whose character and ideas you are essentially unfamiliar with? I define this comment as ridicule.

**"If, as Tara has done, made an object in response to an experience, as a comment on that experience - is it really craft?"

Why wouldn’t it be? Do you regard craft in such low esteem that you do not think it capable of conveying such ‘heavy’ subject matter?

**"…and I still object to the phrase "craft as domestic imprisonment".

Who had this idea? What is it based on? I can't help but think it diminishes the work of those who have crafted before.
Did young women really think that by knitting, crocheting or fruit preserving that they were on a slippery slope to the *bad old days*? Did they feel that they were damaging their feminist credibilty?"

Of course not. I refer to a time when crafting was a necessity instead of a leisurely activity or arts practice. One cannot deny that craft once connoted a certain amount of drudgery. What do you think of when you hear the term ‘women’s work’? Do you think all women are predisposed to enjoy craft? In no way am I demeaning the quality of the work, merely defining one possible view point on how the activity of craft was once viewed.

**"Do we benefit as a society if someone writes a thesis on crochet?"

Who said anything about writing a thesis on crochet? I certainly wouldn’t volunteer myself for the task, though would be interested to read such a piece. You may as well ask how society would benefit from a thesis concerning any arts-based subject, or indeed any literature of any variety.

I do not envy your brand of cynicism and hope never to obtain it.

Having said that, this debate has certainly been inspiring, in an odd kind of way.

Cat

** As an aside, Tara, this work is beautiful, moving and insightful and I am so honoured that you will be part of the exhibition.

a good yarn said...

Girls, girls, girls! I don't have any issues with the work you produce nor am I threatened by your interpretations - in fact, I'm thrilled and excited by it. Tara you have taken an ubiquitous domestic item and transformed it in a direct response to a personal experience. Surely once you use the object for social commentary or political statement, then it transcends craft and becomes art.

As art, it is defined and critiqued quite differently.

I'm still not satisfied that the the phrase *craft as domestic imprisonment* is substantiated. Of course it was a leisure activity for many women and not by any means a necessity for all. There have been women in my family's past who never touched a needle and thread or knitting yarn - commissioning work from others.

I would accept the proposal that for women like the lacemakers and embroiderers, etc, it was and perhaps still is, a commercial imprisonment.

The statement

***Craft is now synonymous with sustainability, a stance against
mass culture and consumerism.***

is an unsupportable generalisation which I'm still not sure is yours or belongs to someone else.

If you folks want to take craft and use it as a tool for creating art works - go right ahead I applaud you and support you. Activism through art is commendable but I'm not convinced by the passive activism of craftivism.

Perhaps we will continue to agree to disagree.

Ann.

Mlle La Revolution des Cache-Pots said...

Dear Ann,

I can see by your reply that certain aspects of this discussion are not making sense for you, from the pro-craftivism side.

Perhaps in Tasmania's past history and that of our own pioneering, settler forebears craft practices like knitting, darning, embroidering, cooking even, have been a sort of drudgery- a necessity to maintain household and family life and with little time left for personal expression and choice.

I know that for my family and ancestors, commissioning work from others was not very often a financially viable option- we are obviously of a more labour-oriented stock in this part of the world and an argument such as the ones posed by Catherine in her exhibition outline is much closer to home for us.

As both Catherine and I discovered we are similarly descended from large farming families in the north of Tasmania, and I can assure you we both understand the necessity of craft techniques and basic home management practices in order to survive in the world. These practices and this work ethic are deeply entrenched within our shared heritage and gives us a very different approach to this whole debate than does your experience, undoubtedly of many years' worth.

Perhaps indeed Catherine may need to review how she locates her thesis and the theory behind the exhibition- that it is coming from a uniquely Tasmanian standpoint (in relation the rest of the world), from a younger generational standpoint and that the themes and ideas which she is arguing for and against are more relevant in this neck of the woods, and yet importantly have practical and creative applications for the rest of global society. I believe this is what she is referring to with her (yes, its hers), statement ***Craft is now synonymous with sustainability, a stance against mass culture and consumerism.***

It is for me.
Tasmania's socio-economic environment is not as well endowed as that of NSW and we have a minuscule population in comparison, epuis less cash floating around and therefore the very real need to make things last and transform otherwise waste materials.
I am very comfortable with and used to, creating for myself a hand made life using a myriad of craft techniques to achieve this.

As young'uns we are indeed a generation blessed with microwave dinners (disgusting), bottled milk (yes, I can still buy it in bottles here), and anti-discrimination laws to ensure that women at least earn nearly as much as men in the workforce.

However, I enjoy making my own butter, I swap artworks for clothing and crafted items from friends and I grow my own vegies...my aim to rid my house of plastics is going swimmingly and yet I love using plastics in some of my artworks, and for me personally I feel I am adding value to landfill fodder.

Please refer to http://indiecraftdocumentary.blogspot.com/
This is one example from the USA and you can see some of the reference sources for Catherine's thesis. There are some really fantastic collectives and projects in the UK and Europe and Australia also, which you can google for more info.

I don't feel any need to justify my arts practice to anyone, though I'm sure that's what this appears to be. What I am annoyed by is perhaps a lack of curiosity and comprehension from members of the public at times, and I do understand it is part of my 'job' as an artist to communicate my ideas and arguments in an articulate manner so that discussions like this can take place and be fruitful and stimulating. I think this has been achieved!

Ann, you wrote:
"If you folks want to take craft and use it as a tool for creating art works - go right ahead I applaud you and support you. Activism through art is commendable but I'm not convinced by the passive activism of craftivism."

I feel it is really important that we disagree on this, that there is debate and not all parties are convinced. I do believe in the passive activism of craft and I think it has so much power, if you consider how close human beings are every day of their lives to crafted items and textiles and objects where there has been some interaction with a human hand in the process of its construction; there is an energy from an item made by hand which seems to become embedded within it and to give it some sort of meaning...think of your favourite ceramic cup, your favourite knitted jumper, your favourite piece of furniture (if you are fortunate enough to be able to afford Australian-made items, and not Chinese mass produced crap), and ask yourself why that particular cup, jumper or chair means something to you, I think you may agree that these items have something about them which sets them apart from the rest, and maybe not in any tangible form.

This is the angle I am approaching Catherine's comments from and perhaps having had a fine arts education means that I take for granted some of these ideas because I have already studied them and forget that they are not known to everyone, and not regular tea time discussion topics.

I do feel though, Ann, that when I read your first comments in criticism of Catherine's text, your tone was sarcastic and rude, which is why I forwarded the discussion to Catherine for her to read and respond if she felt inclined.

Perhaps you have some pearls of wisdom of your own which you would like to share with us on the topic, and you can recommend some texts which would be of interest to both Catherine and myself?

Thanks again for your stimulating contribution to this discussion, I look forward to future debates.

Monique Germon said...

jesus......

generic cialis 20mg said...

Hello, I do not agree with the previous commentator - not so simple