Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Controversial Threads...

Please check out my article on artist Stephen Sollins body of work Domestic Scenes and the controversy surrounding it.

Read it here.


tsillie hill said...

oh. i do like these very much. ummm, i do accept his view that they are "mass produced" so therefore not precious. but i think he defends too quickly. Surely they were precious to those who put in the hours? who knew that recycling could be so complex.

angela simione said...

i love these! and i will admit that i agree with his defense even though i can definitely see why some are so angry. but i think these pieces are an excellent critique of modern art history itself- women artists were (and are) taking a backseat to the men of the art in the modern era, their work and aesthetic disrepected and devalued.

one of the big themes in modernism was mass-production...
this work asks the question if modernism itself was simply a pattern of disrespect... and, now, this artist has undone this "pattern" of disrespect, highlighting the social demands and mass-producted expectations that the women of the era were meant to obey, to follow, to ENJOY. i can't help but think that this work, in more ways that one, attempts to undo gendered thought and action. and i can't help but wonder if there would be controversy over this work if it had been a female artist unraveling the work of other females?

this work ACTS OUT... RE-presents this history and i am all for it. yes, it is sad that an object that was obviously laboured over has been undone, but the amount of time spent on something does not automatically make it "good" work. these works were, after all, found in thrift stores and rummage sales. this artist isn't the first person to "disrespect" these particular works. and would the same controversy exist if i hacked up a paint by number and made a new work out of its pieces? as an artist and crafter, i'm unsure as to whether or not pre-fab, follow the pattern pieces actually serve to hurt our history and if they disrespect the women who made their OWN works and designs. if they do not, why aren't paint by number pieces afforded the same respect as these pre-printed embroidery pieces? or even original paintings themselves?

i am all for apropriation, especially when it examines the issue of loss, of unknown and unknowable histories. i think this work is simply brilliant. thank you so much for presenting this artist's work and inviting us to join the discussion. i'm excited to see where the conversation goes. like you, i'm fascinated by the questions this work raises and am more than interested in welcoming a change of mind and heart. :)

tsillie hill said...

can i just concur completely with angela? Is that lame? It's just so well put and thought out and really couldn't be closer to what i was thinking, but so ineptly relayed..

Maria said...

I agree to certain extent with Sollins' defense of his work in that the found pieces are not precisely fin art, and the recontextualizing the thread sort of elevates them, and adds meaning to them.
nobody would consider a paint by numbers a piece of art, and this embroideries are sort the same.
maybe the things is that women tend to be overprotective of what we consider ours.
the act of embroidering, of mending, and changing the apparent shape, as Ilaria Margutti put it is can be very emotional act, but that in my opinion is not a definitive factor in calling a something art.
to me something is art if it has some intent and content, even if not apparent to anyone but the artist, and Sollins' work gives content to something that without his intervention might as well be nly the product of a past time.

i hope i made sense, because it was hard doing this in english... also I coulnd't commento on the original post because I don't have a wordpres account.

Joetta said...

Thanks so much everybody I have loved watching the discourse unfold in my inbox.
I think that everybody's additions to the discussion are so well said.
And I also concur with Angela.

I was very surprised that the work originally caused such and outrage.
And I think that that the subtleties in how the work was defended were a little not so great. Perhaps just more thought and eloquence to their argument would have nipped the controversy in the bud early on?