Knitting Matter -Materia del Tejido

MFA project at Konstfack College of Arts, crafts and design

Stockholm, 2011

Knitting Matter was a collaborative curatorial project that explored the possibility of textile as an alternative language and its political potential in public space within different socio-geographical circumstances. It was developed as a collaboration between Stickkontakt (Sweden) and C.H.O.LO (Peru) and took place both in Stockholm and in Lima.

The groups started web-based dialogues were they find each other´s field of expertise to be complementary for this project: Stickkontakt´s long experience in taking knitting out of its domestic sphere in the form of craftivism and street art around different spaces in Stockholm and C.H.O.L.O’s input regards their various earlier participatory projects that investigate the relations between community, art and identity in Lima. The discussions covered topics such as participatory events, socially engaged art and methodology resulting in two different approaches to the use of textiles in the public space in their own cities. “Tapestry of collective memory” in Peru, is a communitarian workshop that took place in Ventanilla, one of the biggest districts in Lima where one third of the population lives in shanty towns. This tapestry and its configuration can be seen as an empowering tool that directly constructs the local landscape. Stickkontakt’s interest in engaging into collective projects was materialized in the form of experimental “open projects” where the group worked with participation of people other than the members; “Stripped down, shut off” is collective knitting for demonstration against public health recent reforms. Both groups used recycled items in order to play metaphorically with the revalidation and reconfiguration of the individual when participating in different activities.

C.H.O.L.O. is a collective of emergent art and culture integrated by visual artists from Peru. Their work promotes local identity values and environmental awareness through artistic-cultural and educational activities aiming human development at emerging social sectors of Lima. The collective encourages intercultural dialogue alongside community involvement, and aims to investigate the concepts of community art, local participation and local identity. C.H.O.L.O. participates as a group since 2007 in various meetings, exhibitions, speeches, festivals and workshops. 

Stickkontakt have been working undercover for several years given the strict restrictions around the city of Stockholm. They were a feminist collective looking to ‘disrupt’ the routine or unfamiliarity of the inhabitants of the city by placing knitted/crocheted pieces in different areas. This gesture takes a handicraft work, linked to the feminine and domestic, and decontextualizes it by taking it out to the public space, predominantly male. With this externalization, they reclaim and revalue the action of knitting, giving it a hybrid identity. Stickkontakt is not active anymore.

‘Collective memory tapestry’- Lima. Peru

At some point in their lives, all of C.H.O.L.O´s members lived in Ventanilla, where more than 2 thirds of the population live in shanty towns.

For this project the collective worked with associations in Ventanilla, that usually gather together in order to perform collective work to improve the quality of life in their community, so they could create “Collective Memory tapestry” (Tapiz de la memoria colectiva), a four piece tapestry with designs from the everyday life in Ventanilla that they wove using recycled plastic bags. The idea is to take recycled bags as a symbolic product of our current state of “modernity” in Lima. Knitting with the most abundant and disposable material in contemporary societies means knitting a present memory that could become a document of our time. This event took place on May 1rst at the shanty town “Hijos de Grau” in the district of Ventanilla with the participation of the community and invited artists that work around the subject of public art and collectivity. C.H.O.L.O aims to analyze the relations between art, community and identity from “the emergent perspective”.

‘Stripped down, shut off’ – Stockholm, Sweden.

Stickkontakt had a ‘knitted saying’ on the abrupt changes in everyday life in Sweden after the political reforms regarding public health insurance (in 2012) which meant that people have been transferred from the health insurance system to the unemployment system without getting proper assessment and rehabilitation regarding work capacity. This has in many cases caused the deterioration of their condition and in some cases even led to suicides. The group held a knitting meeting during Påskuppropet, a demonstration against the health security reforms, where they started planning the piece they constructed for this project. 

The pieces were made by reused material such as plastic bags, different packaging materials and old clothes. These materials were chosen to intensify the sense of both the general human everyday life that we all can relate to, and of the individual’s private, personal and intimate sphere. These items are also priceless and discarded and that could be connected to the economic situation of the individuals concerned in this matter. You use only what you have.

Perú: “Collective Memory tapestry” (Tapiz de la memoria colectiva) made by the community and local artists. This tapestry was finished with the support of the mothers and fathers´ organization of the elementary school “Pastorcitos de Fátima” in Ventanilla. The tapestry was given to the school after the project.

Presentation of the project at Konstfack Degree Exhibition 2011


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