“… a concept, process and thinking tool that brings together weaving, materials and embodied rhythms of work”
Embodied-entanglements/entangled-embodiments is an experimental creative process that brings together weaving, materials and my embodied rhythms of work. The process manifests in tactile material objects that I call embodied-entanglements. These are amorphous woven, mixed-media, stitched, printed, painted, embellished, beaded, dimensional, assembled constellations.
My creative research explores moments of intersection represented by embodied-entanglements. Embodied-entanglements is simultaneously a concept, process and thinking tool Weaving is co-opted as a way to think through how materials are able to function as sites of meaning, as well as the way my embodied and gendered life becomes material, embedded in the frame by the repetition of my hand movements, conscious and spontaneous decision making. Weaving facilitates embodied and cerebral modes of thinking, which are used to perform and inform my experience of becoming a gendered body and becomes an extension of the tensions of this process, such as I feel in the conflicting roles I take between my artistic career and mothering. In this submission, I question how my practice helps me to make meaning of entangling and embodying. What is an entangled self? How does weaving embody the gendered body? What is the relationship between the gendered body and embodied materials?
Since weaving takes shape through a sequence of rhythms and performances of my body and hands, acts of weaving embody my personal experience and my creative labour. Conceptually, embodied-entanglements explore the tension between the feminine body as biological material reality and the performative roles of gender imposed on bodies. Much theoretical debate has revolved around making sense of the materiality of feminine bodies through the sex/gender debate. I address four foundational theorists, Luce Irigaray (1985), Judith Butler (1988), Elizabeth Grosz (1994) and Donna Haraway (1988), who differ in how they see innate/biological or social/cultural/material forces affecting gendered materiality.
The tension between sex/gender is a central facet of my research and is made metaphorical by and becomes embodied through my repetitive hand gestures, the containment of the weave’s warp and weft and accumulated material traces. Weaving’s technical mechanics are suited to the requirements of the research – its fundamental operation deals with tension between weft and warp, it demands intimate dialogue with the weaver’s body and an integration of making and thinking processes.
Sarat Maharaj’s (2009) structure of Thinking Through the Visual proposes to create new knowledges by running the somatic, non-discursive and performative register of making alongside discursive thinking to enable “the appearance of something different or unforeseen”. Rather than imposing the limitations of methodology, the process is a loose gathering together, left “unstructured enough to not foreclose engagement” and give space to access the “unforeseen”.
At its core, the research originates in my studio practice: by allowing the intuition/the body to lead, the process is organic, fluid, non-linear, reflexive, spontaneous, progressive and unstructured. It entwines weaving practices with multiple modes of processing. These include giving texture to concepts and disrupting textual linearity through embodied sensorial written, as well as accessing my embodied life experiences through uncomfortably reflexive autobiographic writing. Activating different thought-processing modes within this hybrid/multi-modal process is a way of encountering issues and tracking shifts in meaning that occur through the process – making meaning happens in the cross pollination.
Mareli Stolp, Tegan Bristow – editors
Ben Crooks – web designer
Jess Webster, Nina Barnett – inspirational supervisors
Julie Taylor – my sounding board and gallerist
Anthea Pokroy, Dudu Bloom – images
Olivia Botha – video