Thursday, January 20, 2011

so last night i stayed up in the wee hours watching marie antoinette and putting together my printed sari piece. it is 4 parts, these double ended swimsuits that will all link together like a chain. while i was at the fabric workshop in philly i printed these flat patterns onto repeat yardage, and towards the end was experimenting with printing on random stuff i found at army surplus and thrift stores. there was a salvation army near the trader joes i went to with some friends, and i remember this specific thrifting trip i was looking for blankets or bedding to print on, sort of inspired by the comme des garcons use of blankets in this collection. didn't find any blankets, but i did find about 9 yards of beautiful indian silk for $10. there was a woman in the store (white, in her 60s, sort of 'new agey') who sort of cornered me trying to get me to give her the fabric-- i love it when this happens in thrift stores, its then that you really know you scored. but anyway, her sob story: she told me (long windedly) that this was was a very special sari and that she knew all about them because she had traveled a lot in india and even had worn something very similar at her wedding 40 years previous. she told me she still remembered the specific way to tie and drape the thing and began to dress me in it, wrapping the fine silk over all my winter clothes so that i looked like a very wide silk burrito. she was taking a very long time, struggling to remember the exact way to pleat and wrap and knot the thing around me, and i could tell she couldn't remember and was very adamant in proving that she deserved to own the thing. and then, and this is the best part, an indian woman intercepts the new-ager's wrapping struggle and is like, 'um, i'm actually indian and i tie these all the time, let me just do it, it will take a second.' and the indian woman re-wraps me and i look puffy and awesome. the whole time she's wrapping me the new-ager is making weird references to her time in india as if it were more legitimate than the actual indian lady's experiences. it was silly and funny to be the prop in such a hissy fit. but anyway, because i'm not very nice, i never gave the sari to the new age lady. as i printed on it at the workshop with permanent black ink, and then as i cut the thing to pieces, i thought sorry, in my head to this lady. sorry, sari.

so i'm making this chain gang of sewn bathing suits out of it, and i hope it will (though not heavy handedly) reference where a lot of globalized labor happens, india. and also i found it interesting that traditionally, indian garments have very little sewing in them and are mostly wrapped and pleated and knotted around the body in various styles. so its interesting to me that i am cutting something that is traditionally whole and wrapped; cutting this yardage up and stitching it together in a way that is more traditionally western. another interesting thing is that most saris are 9 meters long, and i like that there is a system to how many meters i was allowed to print on, dictated by the sari itself. i've become obsessed with inventing rules or there being pre-invented guidelines to abide by. tomorrow i plan to coat the pieces in epoxy and then link them together. i'm not sure if i want this to be a hanging piece or a floor piece, i guess i'll see.

{photos: my own sorry, sari (in process), and photo from wikipedia search 'sari' Illustration of different styles of Sari & clothing worn by women in South Asia.}

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