All membranes are porous

A metaphoric feature of Slofa that has not so far been talked about or noticed or mused over is it's skin-like function in covering sitting surfaces that are maybe not so contiguous or new or pretty. As a furniture cover it designates a sitting surface different from what is under or inside of it. Wearing all of the little stitches and knots and minor mistakes and beautiful creations of Slofemists embroiderers over several years it is not just the thing that is looked at, its skin-like function is now one of its features.

Or at least that is one of the meanings that comes from its inclusion inside of the exhibition, All membranes are porous, which is now presented at Kamloops Art Gallery. This exhibition, curated by Charo Neville, brings together works by six Canadian artists that explore dynamic conditions and phenomena familiar to human embodiment --the experiences of living as a body. In her curatorial exhibition walkabout, which preceded the exhibition opening last week, Neville led the crowd in breathing exercises and proudly described how this exhibition would be her last professional output before her own swollen body would deliver an expected baby. Fittingly, this is a project that demands that the viewer use more than just the eyes. The body is expected to maneuver around precarious foam, ceramic and felt sculptures (Zoe Kreye and Luanne Martineau), sit through psychedelic eye-popping effects (Jeremy Shaw), and experience diverse video installation spaces, where the way one's body is positioned or held, is part of the video's effect (Jeremy Shaw, Pascal Grandmaison, Sarah Anne Johnson, and Margaret Dragu). The work of the Slofemists forms surfaces for that kind of altered or enhanced viewing in Margaret Dragu's The Library Project. 

Here are some photos of how Slofemists participants Rebecca Pasch and Lois Klassen experienced the exhibition and opening events. Excerpts of the exhibition notes that describe the Slofemists work is here - Download KamloopsArtGallery_Dragu001.

Congratulations to artists, Margaret Dragu, Pascal Granmaison, Sarah Anne Johnson, Zoe Kreye, Luanne Martineau, Jeremy Shaw, and curator, Charo Neville, and everyone at Kamloops Art Gallery!

 

 


The Slofemists' Intensive

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Embroidery by Karin Millson

Since the fall of 2013, the Slofemists project and its many participants have slowly worked away at embroidery, feminism, self care, group care, and local ecologies --all with deliberate slackness. Not so much sluggishness as a rebellion against speed, the Slofemists project has been a methodology of feminist survival, an excuse to gather and exchange life skills and stories and to produce a pretty singular pile of embroidered creations.

Organizers, Lori Weidenhammer and Lois Klassen, are excited to announce that later in 2016, the work of the Slofemists will appear inside an installation by Margaret Dragu at the Kamloops Art Gallery (September 24 - December 31). In this exhibition the Slofa patchwork, on which so many hands have worked, is expected to designate a place for gallery visitors to view a very special collection of Margaret Dragu’s video archive. Her work called “The Library Project / Commodification of Touch” offers a profound view of people in the act of personal knowledge exchange.

You are invited to join the Slofemists in the final (intensive) production of the Slofa patchwork and other peices for this exhibition project.

The Slofemists' Intensive will take place at the Moberly Arts & Culture, 7646 Prince Albert Street, Vancouver, Canada.

June 23: 9 am to 2:30 pm
June 24: 9 am to 5 pm
June 25: 9 am to 3:30 pm

Everyone is welcome. No textile proficiency is required. This site will become an open textile studio during those times, so feel free to bring your own projects (or mending, etc.), to come and go, or just to enjoy the vibe. As usual, Weidenhammer and Klassen aim to mingle the collective handwork of the workshops with fun and empowerment: topical discussions, collective food, garden time and self-care.

IMPORTANT - Please confirm the times that you plan to come to ease in planning, especially food and supplies - [email protected]

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Embroidery report from Santa Fe, NM

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A wall of needle work at Tecolate Cafe on St. Michael's Drive in Santa Fe, New Mexico

 At the Santa Fe Art Institute’s Emigration/Immigration themed residency, embroidery is infiltrating artists’ practices.

A couple of days ago, Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo organized an after dinner Mapping/Tracing Migration Workshop. In it he provided us with small stretched canvasses, thread, needles, scissors and the instructions, “describe your experiences or ideas of migration critically onto 10' x 10' piece of stretched raw canvas using needle and thread.” Our embroidered, altered, and deconstructed canvasses are now floating around the residents’ living and studio spaces here are SFAI.

As expected, the workshop generated interesting discussions –not just about immigration but also embroidery. For the benefit of Slofemists far and near, here are a few of the projects discussed:

Last summer at Neuberger Museum of Art, artist Teresa Margolles assembled a series of collectively produced textiles from various sites (South, North and Latin Americas), which revealed and produced links (knots) between the embroiderers’ experiences of violence and the textiles themselves. We discussed the way she engaged families and communities grieving the deaths of loved ones from violence in the embroidery of the morgue shrouds that carried bloodied imprints of victims’ bodies. Teresa Margolles: We Have a Common Thread. Thank You to fellow SFAI artist-in-residence, Erika Harrsch, for highlighting for us Margolles's work.

Also linking embroidery to violence, there is a tradition in Japan of embroidering pieces of fabric to protect warriors heading to war. Traced to the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) but becoming ubiquitous in the second world war, the practice of making Sennin-bari involves women preparing white bands of fabric with 1000 red embroidered French knots as symbolic protection garments to be worn by men heading to war (usually worn around their waists). Each of the knots needed to be collected from different women embroiderers, although women born in the year of the dragon were able to add multiple knots (up to 35) to each cloth. Women would gather in public spaces like train stations to collect from each other the requisite knots. The practice was known to hold a radical element, since it provided women a means of offering a contradictory message of hope for survival, when the official rhetoric of the Imperial Japanese government insisted that these men carry the more honourable duty of dying for their country. This article describes the practice, with photos - Needleprint.blogspot.com. Thank You to fellow SFAI artist-in-residence, Yoko Inoue, for telling me about this small piece of Japanese textile culture.

The elaborate portraits “painted” with embroidery by Cacye Zavaglia are inspiring. In this video, Zavaglia describes her process: https://vimeo.com/51107397

A “radical” feminist embroiderer from Halifax, Anna Taylor, was listed as “best local artist” in a recent Guardian article - An insider's guide to Halifax: 'The perks of a city, as relaxed as a small town'. Thank You to fellow SFAI artist-in-residence, Emma FitzGerald, for telling me about Taylor's work.

Lois Klassen

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My "migration embroidery" quotes the 1927 migration story of my grandfather.

 

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Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo leads a migration embroidery workshop at SFAI


 


Feminists Listening

WOW what a lot of feminist news to process at the final 2014 Slofemists event last weekend...

Let's see how much I remember:

  • Hillary Clinton deflecting discussions during her recent visit to Canada of the formidible possibility of her breaking through the thickest of glass ceilings;
  • mansplaining, an as yet unarticulated cultural concept, courtesy of Rebecca Solnit;
  • the complex and contrary messaging of #yesallwomen;
  • Germain Greers's provocation - what will it be like when women are not needed to make babies? (in a lecture at the new Canada Human Rights Museum);
  • ... I'm sure there was more!

Here are a couple of podcasts that were shared:

http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/doublex/2014/05/_yesallwomen_paid_menstrual_leave_and_sophia_amorosa_on_this_week_s_double.html

http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2014/05/28/fragile-freedoms---germaine-greer/

 

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The reading lists

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Semiotext(s)'s new publication by Simone Weil inspired Sunday's SlofemistS. We wondered if the entrenched economic inequity based on gender, from stories in our families' histories, could be understood as what Weil describes as an unexamined and highly desired "truth" --the stuff of religions, and adherents to political parties. In "Note on the Abolition of All Political Parties" (first published in French in 1957, and now available in English as part of the Semiotext(e) Whitney Series), Weil decides that political parties, like religious groups, are incapable of critically examining the truth... "how can one desire truth without knowing anything about it?" (20). We wondered if her logic could be applied like this: how can one desire some "truth" (like inequitable distribution of family assets based on gender, for example) when one does not thoroughly examine the justice of this truth on all of the people involved?

Weil's essay ends: "Almost everywhere --and often for purely technical problems--the operation of taking sides, of taking position for or against, has replaced the obligation to think." (30)

 Other SolfemistS highlights from Sunday:

Lexie Owen is continuing her deconstruction / reconstruction project called For All The Boys I've Loved Before, that was featured in the graduate exhibition at Emily Carr University of Art + Design at the beginning of this month.

Kriss Boggild dug into her archive and brought along three issues of Makara: The Canadian Magazine by Women for People circa 1975-78. Coming out of an office on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, Makara's editorial policy was "'Canadian general interest alternative magazine by women for people.'... some art, some fiction/poetry, some politics, some humour, some health news, some children's features, some book reviews... We want to reflect the growing, moving, changing times, without making things appear impossibly dismal, because we believe in possibilities, and people who are working for new ideas, new approaches, new lifestyles. Do we sound fussy? We are!" (Vol 2, #4, page 10)

Jem Nobel brought a family story about the important but unacknowledged economic contribution that his mother had made in his extended family. He used the SlofemistS time and supplies to do his mending.

Margaret Dragu was completely delighted by the hazards the heavy weather had presented to her en route... I was so glad she made it!

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Embroidery Event - February 22, 2014 (1-4pm)

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Slofemists will be embroidering again next Saturday (February 22, 1-3pm). For this event, Cindy Mochizuki has graciously agreed to tell us about her grandmother's practice in the Japanese art of Bunka Shishu (or thread painting). Everyone is invited to bring feminist stories, as usual. Embroidery supplies and equipment will be available. No prior experience needed. If you have your own project to work on, bring it along, otherwise, Slofemist Patterns will be available for you to work on.

Note: This gathering will move out of the Yukon Studio, for this time only, and take place in The Textiles Institute, an itinerant project space created in Emily Carr's Abraham J Rogatnick Media Gallery by Lexie Owen. Owen is an Emily Carr University student of visual art and critical studies. This is how she describes The Textiles Institute:

Anyone with any type of interest in textiles is welcome to use the provided work space from Feb 12-23rd. The project hopes to create an opportunity for knowledge exchange between art and design, students, faculty, support staff, and the public, and proposes itself as a potential model for a topic driven post-displinary workspace. The space is a structure for exchange, and throughout its duration will host sewing bees, knitting groups, design consortiums, fashion designers, performance works, and a variety of workshops.

 


Embroidery Event - February 8, 2014 (1-4pm)

Slofemitsts will be embroidering at the Yukon Studio next Saturday. We've invited Elisa Ferrari to talk about her experience embroidering a Boetti panel. Bring your own feminist story... and come ready to embroider!

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16 DICEMBRE 2040–11 LUGLIO 2023 (December 16, 2040–July 11, 2023). 1971

Embroidery on fabric. Each: 23 5/8 x 23 5/8" (60 x 60 cm). Private collection, Houston. © 2012 Estate of Alighiero Boetti/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome

These embroidered squares were the first works Boetti had fabricated in Kabul, on his initial visit to Afghanistan. He supplied the dates to hired embroiderers without further direction, and he was pleasantly surprised when the texts came back surrounded by ornate borders. Boetti was interested in the idea that an artwork might be produced by different parties without collaboration or discussion—a form of authorship that is split rather than shared. The dates had superstitious connotations for Boetti: December 16, 2040, will be the hundredth anniversary of his birth; July 11, 2023, is the date he predicted for his death.

http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2012/boetti/#null


Upcoming Slofemists Events - [[MORE Details & Date Changes!]]

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 5.40.52 PMWe are excited to offer special guests at our upcoming 2014 Slofemists events.

We hope you can make it to one or more of these studio embroidery circles in Vancouver, Canada:

Saturday, February 8, 1-3pm = Special Guest, Elisa Ferrari will talk about how she came to embroider an Alighiero Boetti textile. We hope to bring a feminist frame to his iconic textile work.

Saturday, February 22, 1-3 pm = Special Guest, Cindy Mochizuki will discuss her grandmother’s practice in the Japanese art of Bunka Shishu (or thread painting).

Saturday, March 29, 1-3 pm = Special Guest, Lexie Owen will talk about why her projects (The Collaborative Embroidery Society, and more) bring critical theory alongside handwork like embroidery.

These are small, free events that take place at the Yukon Street studio near the O. Village Sky Train station. No skill or equipment is needed (but you are invited to bring your own embroidery supplies if you have them.) Please send an email [loisATloisklassenDOTcom] to reserve a place, and to get details on the location.

[[Note the change of dates from previous posts.]]


2014 - Upcoming Slofemists Events

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Join us to embroider in 2014 !

Slofemists will be meeting monthly at the Yukon Studio for Feminist embroidery. Bring your Feminist stories, inspirations, and ideas. We'll supply the embroidery materials, equipment and a growing archive of patterns.

2014 dates: January 25, February 22, March 29 - 1-3pm

RSVP: loiszing[at]telus[point]com

We are hoping to have a few special guests... more details on that to come. We'd love to stitch with you!