Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Old but new: Handlebar dress

Dimensions: 73 cm x 61 cm
Material: Cotton
(The ends of the open sleeves are sewn into slits on both sides of the skirt’s hem)

I’ve been re-working the small red dress I crocheted ages ago (for previous incarnations see here, here and in a purely virtual fashion here) and that just never looked right. Tried filling it with all kinds of things, took something away, added something else, still not right, then was on the point of unravelling it completely (angrily, as it didn’t yield to me) and simply reduce it to a ball of wool, ha! Just about held back and in the end gave in again to my fascination with arms and what they might be made to imply and here it is.
Funny how in my visual art I am so often concerned with a girl’s world – this morning I finished a small text about a very old woman. It made me think about what I am trying to do in both my art and my writing. My work does have a narrative thread, I am trying to tell stories, but not with beginning middle and end. Anything resembling chronology, cause and effect, conflict and resolution is not my thing. I am more interested in producing a prolonged accumulative snapshot of being, of inner life, raising questions in the viewer’s/reader’s mind about how ‘it’ became what it is and what ‘it’ is going to become. I want to arrive at a concentration, an essence – think of a sauce that you’ve got on the stove for ages and let simmer until it is reduced to just the right consistency and taste.


redredday said...

ahhh...the little red dress you mentioned earlier...i'm glad you did not unravel it completely. i didn't know it was this one you meant - i saw the previous incarnations before and just love them!!! wondering what was it about them that you felt was not enough?
will be honest and tell you that it is aggravating for me to look at the current handlebar dress because the arms are not free. but perhaps that is the point? i think of a girl's world, as you mentioned, and i see submissiveness in that constraint and that makes me almost angry thinking about it. definitely aggravated and i have the urge to pull loose those arms and shake awake those wings i see within that white negative space between the arms.

Uschi said...

Marjojo, yes, a girls world in one way, but a very ungirlish girls-world on the other hand...
I've got the same feelings as Mien..a VERY beautiful a trap...

I like to follow your thoughts on your art!

cally said...

you said "...raising questions in the viewer’s/reader’s mind about how ‘it’ became what it is and what ‘it’ is going to become" and that is exactly what happens when i view your work. i love how you are evolving this piece.

i am in bed just now with cat and crochet of my own, also a reworking of an old piece (looks like a 5ft biological cell). i've forgotten so many crochet techniques but this piece only used simple chains and double crochet so i have picked up where i left off, inspired by you and you creativity during ill health. finally, i have something to work on that can grow at a pace that suits, and which won't be ruined if i fall asleep on it. i'm beginning to feel a little like my self again, thank you.

redredday said...

hey Marjojo, thank you for the good wishes for thanksgiving and my mom. made us both smile. :).

so today is a lighter day (not as moody as the other day) and i am looking at this again...and i see gentleness, and maybe shyness in that wanting to blend within oneself? but more than anything else now (i think), i keep thinking 'vessel of dreams', like she is the keeper of hopes and dreams that may or may not come about. but it is enough to have them, for now.

Marjojo said...

As always delighted about your comments. The dress emerged from a drawing made ages ago. The question was: should I move from imagined dress to real(ised) one? In the end I found the original crocheted dress too safe, too nice. I love the new shape, the sleeves curving out and back in and the negative space they create (Mien, so great you saw wings again where I hadn’t!). It’s almost as if the real dress has become a drawing again. The dress has something of a vessel, for projections/demands/expectations from outside or the girl’s fears about or control of what’s in her. I’m interested in its performative elements – imagine what it would feel like to wear this one. I can feel the psychic body of the girl that might inhabit the dress, it’s a kind of girl-dress-ghost. Your strong reactions show that you did just that, you felt the constraints of these sleeves almost in your bodies, didn’t you. There’s something here about passivity, which I’m very interested in, also something about feeling shame, imposed shame (skirt raised if arms raised). Maybe I’m oveloading this work with meaning here, but this is what I’ve been thinking about.

cally said...

Thanks for commenting on the crochet. The post was not a thrilling read, save your energies for better stuff elsewhere. I just had to thank you for your role in my picking up old work again. Crochet was something I really hadn't planned to restart and they could have sat in those bags for another 15 years.

redredday said...

ahh yes. skirt raised if arms are raised. i love that. did not think of it before. also didn't consciously think of wearing it but i guess i did instinctively in my mind. would love to see it really being worn.

so i've been still working on that book of mine, thinking of the questions you brought up but something still not quite clicking. two days ago, i was so thrilled, thinking i am just about done but today i just ripped out two pages and more pages seem to be not right. hmph.

anyways, hope you're keeping warm and happily arting. :).