I get wrapping as a joining devise. I really do. I don’t get wrapping for wrapping’s sake.
I came to this new project today feeling keen to commence as the last few exercises of joining seemed to be overlapping with the concept of wrapping. Then I realised. I am a little slow on the listening to my inner voice and acting on it. I am fine at thinking everything – but listening to my body – which yells at me – that, I’m rubbish at! (This was brought to my attention last year when I was working with my therapist). I understand it is as a complication of having to function and be in survival mode for far too long and far too often. When situations are dangerous there’s no security in listening to your gut instinct saying ‘this is bad’ or your body is hurting, you just have to get through to the other side.
Wrapping. Other course mates have been experimental and innovative and visually entrancing with their work. But, my stomach is pulled back against my spine for this activity. My knees are burning with a desire to run. All my energy is in my feet which are tingling. I’ve clocked up the miles today thinking I just needed the sun and fresh air before work tomorrow. Yet at the back of my mind has been a question mark? Wrapping? Really…why?
I thought it was a rejection of the ostentatiousness of 80s art – I remember as a younger person first coming across Christo and Jeanne-Claude wrapping islands and instinctively being repulsed by it. The sheer arrogance at thinking their art made people notice the forgotten islands. The scale. The cost. The show of it. The labelling. This teen reaction is still inside me and somehow I have to grow up and beyond this.
So, I started. I wrapped my wooden spoon in fuschia pink hairy yarn. I followed instructions. I trusted to ‘the “presented” problem’ of the course notes (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi ‘Creativity’ pg 95). I have been reading up on inter-leaving of multi-modal learning for my day job in order to bring something new: non-serial learning that maximises learning. Then here I am, trying to contend with a serial learning course, that seems to be far removed from the current neuroscience of parallel or ‘inter-leaving’ learning. But, I figured that I cannot buck every trend. I cannot fight every battle. Some tasks should just be completed. Everyone else seems to do this exercise and be excited by the creative potential and revelations of the wrapping.
I’m sorry. I find it trite.
We’re presented with a faux problem. Creativity thrives on problem solving. There is no breakthrough potential for me in this exercise as there are no questions. There is only a presented problem-solving process. This may still satisfy the notion of ‘creativity’ but it leaves me flat.
I want a discovered problem. A question that has not yet been asked.
For example, in the field of Textiles, which is struggling to be seen as equal, in the domain of Art, to Fine Art, a field that is struggling against its domestic levelling, and here we have ‘use a basic kitchen implement like a wooden spoon.’ Seriously?!
I did consider grabbing one of those butcher knives that I have banned from my house due to previous living conditions. I resisted. But I felt real anger approaching this task. I took the spoon and remonstrated with myself for over thinking.
I wrapped. It’s pink. I wrapped thicker and thinner. No-one seems to have complained in their blogs about the difficulty of wrapping the tip of the spoon. Perhaps no-one else had difficulty! Yet, that anger was still there. What a pointless time-wasting pretentious exercise. Yes, I could waffle on about the distortion of the form, the changes, the unexpected fluffiness of a DOMESTIC implement. But I won’t. I did grab a pair of pliers at that time as these are too a mainstay of my kitchen. Instead, I challenged myself to stick with it.
In my mind there was not the carefree wrapping of a gift, not the joyous enfolding of a hug but something much much darker. Wrapping is covering. Covering is silencing, de-personalising, hiding, destroying the true form of, mummies are wrapped, a white coat wraps a patient, wrapping is binding. Binding is imprisoning – then we slip into very dangerous psychological territory for me. Safer ground: foot-binding, oppression, binding -shackling…keeping things under wraps, shrink-wrapping, it’s a wrap…..
This is not ‘creative’. This is a false problem set up to learn a process without paying any attention to the dark side of this concept. Sure you can experiment with different materials, different combinations, different tensions… but seriously – wrapping the epitome of female domain – a wooden spoon – an item from the kitchen?
Why on earth can’t the notes say -choose a familiar item to you and wrap it in such a way that it loses its familiarity.
I wrapped, using what was in the house:
Sample 2: cables-
These wanted to unwrap in the way that the old phone cord would when you sat on the phone twizzling a pen into the loops as you talked.
Sample 3: burlap
Sample 4: grass raffia
I cannot get past the lack of depth in the presentation of this exercise.
Eventually the anger boiled over. Having no barbed wire to hand I grabbed nature’s version. There was blood-letting. But this sample is my most expressive response. If I had barbed wire to hand that would be my next and final sample.
Sample 5: bramble thorns
This was somewhat cathartic.
I continued with the exercise and felt so shallow.
Sample 6: paper
Then combining threads:
Sample 8: washing line and measuring tape (with every dig intended)
Sample 9: stretch red lace trim and red craft wire
Then I stripped the forms. I cannot separate meaning from making. The process has to matter. It has to have meaning. Wrapping means falseness to me.
Close ups for the sketchbook fodder:
I want to formulate a problem to feel creative. Finding a solution offers me no curiosity game. I desire insight, not answers.
I don’t want to know, I want to wonder.
Wouldn’t it be more interesting to wrap a ‘workshop’ tool in fluffy pink baby yarn, than to predictably wrap a ‘domestic item’ in wire?
Wouldn’t it be more interesting to ask why no-one else seems to have questioned why people are taken in by the wrapping and not by the concealed truth?
Clever wrapping is show. Do we really want to get drawn in by that?
You can count me out.