Crossings. Warp Title: Drifting. 2014
barbed wire: Canada
cotton: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Macau, Taiwan
driftwood: the beach
mohair: India, Romania
nylon: China, Taiwan
polyester: Madagascar, Vietnam
spandex: Cambodia, Guatemala
silk: Argentina, Romania, Taiwan
wool: China, India, Romania, Turkey
In my piece Crossings I am exploring illegality. I want to investigate a system whereby commodities arelegal to cross borders and increasingly people areillegal; that goods that are made are permissible to cross borders, but the people who made them are not: “Capital, and the transnationalization of its production and consumption, is freely mobile across borders, while the people displaced as a consequence of the ravages of neoliberalism and imperialism are constructed as demographic threats and experience limited mobility.” This piece will look into the role of the traditional hand made textile and how industrialism and capitalism have changed this and what this change has meant in relation to borders. One of my formative texts is Harsha Wallia’s Undoing Border Imperialism, which is attributed to her work with a grassroots organization called No One is Illegal.
To depict these notions of borders, I tangled, twined and woven fibers from specific countries where borders or immigration to Canada (or the western world) is an issue. The piece consists of a large traditional frame loom with loom weights, holding the white woven cloth. Loom weights are one traditional way of keeping tension on frame looms. The frame is constructed with driftwood, which knows no borders and may have come from almost anywhere. The traditional is juxtaposed with the industrial textile materials woven. My loom weights are fashioned out of clay in the form of hands that represent the typically female makers and the handmade. The figurative person in this piece rests in the hands, as well as the handmade. My fibers, other than factory woven textiles, are all natural fibers from countries around the world whose people have trouble immigrating into Canada or have issues with the constructs of borders. Woven into the natural fibers is barbed wire, both a literal and a figurative reference to border security, the violence of borders and the inadmissibility of peoples. The colour of the fibres, white and beige, reflects the nature of racism that is inherent in Occidental immigration. All this is then woven into an intricate and beautiful patterning. The viewer is left with the question if these hands are forced to weave this system, or if this handmade structure is in fact a reclamation of an unjust system.