Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Greenjeans Review: Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting

Tonight I accompanied my friend Lily to the very well-attended opening for Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting at the Museum of Arts and Design. The show is well worth seeing, and the museum, which is located across the street from MoMA in midtown Manhattan, does a great job exhibiting craft, no matter what it calls itself.

With dozens of works that experiment with materials, scale, and methods to push the edges of the categories "lace" and "knitting," the exhibition is full of juicy treats. Here are some highlights:

Tethered knit dress by Liz Collins

Artist Liz Collins in a more wearable frock of her design. Phase 4 of Liz's ongoing, collaborative performance piece "Knitting Nation" will take place at MAD on Saturday, June 16 from 12-5pm. Not to be missed!

Sabrina Gschwandtner (of KnitKnit) set up this public knitting circle dedicated to wartime knitting. Anyone who can knit may sign up to come work on any of 4 different patterns, and when they do, admission is free.

A small detail of Edward Mayer's large installation "Drawing In" made from bits of furniture, wire plant racks, sticks of wood, and other found materials painted all white and "knitted" or "pieced" together in a three-dimensional web. It reminds me of a Louise Nevelson sculpture breaking out of the planar mold.

Freddie Robins' creepy/funny knitted body suit.

Netherlandish artist Henk Wolvers drips threads of liquid porcelain from a brush directly onto the kiln plate and fires them into these lovely, poetic sculptures. 180 of them line an entire wall of the exhibition. The work reminds me of the gorgeous sculptures and installations of Jeanne Quinn; I'd love to see them exhibited together...

A detail of Barbara Zucker's 12-foot long installation comprised of strips of rubber cut into "lace" patterned after the wrinkles on a friend's face.

The considerable crowd.

My friend Lily Kane and a friend of hers from Chicago sporting a subversively knitted hat.

View up into Janet Echelman's sculpture that I'd describe as a psychedelic basketball net (also pictured at the top). It runs 3+ stories high.

A still from the stop-motion animated film "Errant Behaviors" by Anne Wilson starring needles and black thread. (Click link for video excerpt.)

After MAD, we went to Tribecca to R 20th Century (a great mid-century design/decorative arts gallery) to see the Jeff Zimmerman show. Zimmerman is a Brooklyn-based designer-maker who works in glass. I loved his big glass terrariums, his white and green sculpture of interconnected biomorphic vessels that reminded me of the Barbapappa's houses, and the elongated glowing white teardrops that hung from the ground-floor ceiling to the basement floor.

It is interesting to think of these two exhibitions in terms of craft, design, and art. Each exhibition features ambitious works made with considerable technical proficiency in their various media. Zimmerman's work seems to be mostly about the aesthetic appeal of the final result while his process and material seem to be deliberately hidden and mysterious. The pieces don't really seem to be glass, and even knowing that they are doesn't help one to comprehend how he makes the remarkable forms he does. They work like magic tricks.

On the other hand, the lace-makers and knitters exhibited at MAD generally seem most concerned with materials and processes. The final works are like a record of the actions taken to manipulate them. The beauty is in the result of a fully-disclosed process, as opposed to a pre-determined final form. (Form-follows-process?) Generally speaking. So it seems to me tonight as I reflect.

Upon leaving MAD and before heading downtown, we stood for a few moments to watch the huge Doug Aitken projection "Sleepwalkers" run on the wall of MoMA across the street. Lovely to watch, something like star-gazing.

Photos: All by Amy Shaw, except still from film by Anne Wilson sourced here.


patricia said...

oh my lord! so lovely to see barbara's still creating art! i remember her crystal doorknobs with lace from a show at uvm back when i was there in the 80's...those were fantastic times...

Mad said...

Thank you so much for the update! This conversation continues...