Sunday, August 30, 2009

Knitting Sprawl - St. John's, Newfoundland, Part 3

We are back in Gillams with only about 10 days left to pretend that we are never leaving, and to get ready to leave for points west and then south. Some years are easier than others, but this is not one of the easy years.

Two of the major components of Knitting Sprawl are the conversations with knitters and people who live in the suburbs (sometimes they are the same people), and creation of a body of new work based on these conversations. At first, I thought I needed to record the conversations on video. I guess I thought I needed to do that because it seemed to make it more legitimate as art, or perhaps as Art. It was as if I was being more serious by solemnly setting up equipment and creating hours of video that would bore nearly everyone to tears. Not that the conversations would be boring! Far from it. But the videotape of the conversations, these would be pretty darn dull as anyone who has attempted to sit through some cinema verite art installation can attest. Fortunately, after my first knit together in Portugal Cove, I realized that I don't need to record these conversations and, in fact, that the conversations are actually better when they are allowed to live in their moment and then pass by, unrecorded.

I thought I had learned this lesson from The House Museum, but apparently, it needs to be relearned over and over. How could I ever forget speaking a man who barely let me get a word in edgewise for a good half an hour, then when I pulled out the video camera: total silence....then one word answers to my questions, followed by total silence. When I gave up and put the camera away, he then chewed my ear for another half an hour.

Sometimes, cameras kill.

Increasingly I also have come to believe in the power of conversation. While it may not be something one can document on video, I think conversations can resonant far beyond the life of the actual face-to-face time. It is the way we carry away what transpired and then change it over time in our heads that gives conversations such power. And it is exactly this that I am employing in making new work for this project. It is nice to know that I won't be alone in the process - everyone who participates will have their own version of this experience.

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