Suits

 

Artist Statement   1992


I am interested in clothing as skins, which project outwards as well as inwards. By taking apart the male business suit I try to discover or analyze the "pattern" on which it is constructed. At the same time the metamorphoses are an evolution of the suits into something else. As the notion of a metamorphosis suggest: they happen either through nature taking its course or through magic (art?) I like the mixture of a bit of both.


By taking the suit apart, graphic contours of patterns become visible, the language (the logical structure) of the suit. The pattern for an arm is always similar and recognizable to any pattern maker, tailor or seamstress (and in fact most women will recognize a certain flat shape as an arm). I ask myself: what is the difference/or connection between the flat pattern, the sleeve, the visible arm and the arm underneath the skin. How do they influence or define each other. There are other ways to make clothing. Big complex ideas are held together apparently seamless or invisible. But in fact, there are seems, which can be undone.


The flattening out of the suits interests me and its relation between the structured surface, created through the woven fabric, layered onto the body of the person. Woven materials are grids and usually (in our industrially produced fabrics) repeated endlessly. Men's suiting fabrics are complex combinations of different colored threads, which produce interesting visual effects, but without drawing attention to themselves. Initially I was mainly concerned with rupturing the structures themselves, but it evolved into an overlaying of new patterns onto the old ones, destroying the old ones in the process.


I am also thinking about my work in relation to Naomi Schor's book entitled. Reading in Detail 1989. I focus on apparent arbitrary aspects or insignificant looking details and defy logics of "good" design. By examining the suit thread by thread, to discover "its point", I try to force myself and the viewer to consider minute and apparently irrelevant details, to loose complete overviews and to start to understand new patterns of logic that are in the process of evolving and not yet fixed, and don't present a clear message. I expect a different picture to emerge  = a Metamorphoses! Other references exist in other recent feminist literary criticism: "The Voice of the Shuttle is Ours" by Janis Joplin Klindienst and "Arachnology" by Nancy Miller (publ. in Poetics of Gender 1988).


On a different level the metamorphoses come from Ovid's otherwise unconnected stories, which are held together by the thread of metamorphoses which occur in each. Many of the stories tell about weaving - the story of Arachne, Philomela, the daughter of Minyas, Penelope and even Ariadne, all women who challenge fate through their weaving, spinning or thread.


My work does take time and this is very apparent. The choosing to spend time on a simple task is relevant as is the relatively tame disruption of fabric patterns in relationship to disrupting symbolically more important systems.