Artist Personal Statement
the event of a thread, 2012-2013
I can remember the feeling of swinging—how hard we would work for those split seconds, flung at furthest extension,
just before the inevitable downward and backward pull, when we felt momentarily free of gravity, a little hiccup of
suspension when our hands loosened on the chain and our torsos raised off the seat. We were sailing, so inside the
motion—time stopped—and then suddenly rushed again toward us. We would line up on the playground and try to
touch the sky, alone together.
Suspended in the liquidity of words, reading also sets us in motion. We fall between a book’s open covers, into the
texture of the paper and the regularity of the line. The rhythm and breath of someone reading out loud takes us to a
world far away. As a child, I could spend hours pressed against the warmth of my grandmother’s body listening to her
read, the rustling of her hand turning the page, watching the birds and the weather outside, transported by the
intimacy of a shared side by side.
the event of a thread is made of many crossings of the near at hand and the far away: it is a body crossing space, is a
writer’s hand crossing a sheet of paper, is a voice crossing a room in a paper bag, is a reader crossing with a page and
with another reader, is listening crossing with speaking, is an inscription crossing a transmission, is a stylus crossing a
groove, is a song crossing species, is the weightlessness of suspension crossing the calling of bell or bellows, is touch
being touched in return. It is a flock of birds and a field of swings in motion. It is a particular point in space at an
instant of time.
Anni Albers, in writing for Encyclopedia Brittanica, reflected that all weaving traces back to “the event of a thread.” The
crossings of thread make a cloth. Cloth is the body’s first architecture; it protects, conceals and reveals; it carries our
weight, swaddles us at birth and covers us in sleep and in death. A patterned cloth symbolizes state or organization; a
red cross stitched onto a white field is the universal sign of aid. A white cloth can be a ghost, a monster or a truce.
John Constable described the sky in his paintings as a “white sheet drawn behind the objects.” When we speak of its
qualities we speak of the cloth’s hand; we know it through touch. Like skin, its membrane is responsive to contact, to
the movement of air, to gravity’s pull.
Suspended via ropes and pulleys by a field of swings hung 70 feet from arched iron trusses, a white cloth more than
twice the hall’s width and nearly as tall is the central figure in the space. Whether a tug of war or a unison effort,
individualized or coordinated, the responsive liquidity of the silk registers the combined velocities and accelerations of
the field of swings. The shifting weather of the white cloth is generated through collective action. A common activity
perhaps reveals our kinship with bees, ants, and cranes; all united as Aristotle’s “social animals,” undertaking the same
action for the elevation of the whole.
At the threshold of the Drill Hall and facing a flock of caged pigeons, two readers, seated at a wood table, read out
loud from scrolls. Their address is to the birds, one species bound by gravity to another whose capacity for flight
provokes irreconcilable longings in the other; part explanation, part impossible communication. The scroll they read
from is a concordance, which is by definition an alphabetical arrangement of the principal words of a book with
reference to the passage in which each word occurs. A concordance is also an agreement, a harmony. Here, more truly
a melding of mesostic and concordance forms, the vertical spine of words intersects with horizontal lines drawn from
disparate inventories that categorize and organize the observable world.
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