Saturday, January 30, 2010

Graffiti-stitched armchairs in Tiburon Art Auction for Haiti

The Sampler Culture Clash yellow armchairs have been beautifully graffiti-stitched, creating a unique archive of the Open Source Embroidery exhibition at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco. Audiences were invited to listen to the Sampler Collective A-Z Audio recordings whilst they stitched. The sewing was inspired by a compilation of song, poetry, spoken and electronic sounds and beats celebrates the many different facets of embroidery, from the personal words of the stitcher and the sounds of sewing, to the history of the sampler and Canan Purple Dye. The expressive embroidery has created multicoloured personal tags and warm messages of hope combined with pixelated and freestyle stitches. Some of the words are confidently stitched versions of early programmed texts such as 'Hello World'; others are more discreetly hidden messages such as  'Happy Bday to Me' embroidered on the back of one of the chairs. Even an English penny has been sewn to the backseat of one chair, asking for your thoughts in return.

These exquisitely unique chairs will be auctioned in aid of the Haiti Earthquake Appeal at Tiburon near San Francisco, on Feb 19th details below:

On February 21st the city of Tiburon will host an auction at the Tiburon Town Hall to benefit earthquake survivors of Haiti. There will be a silent auction of art and wine followed by a live art auction. The auctioneer is the well known curator Ted Cohen.

The auction will include contemporary and traditional painting and sculpture, fine crafts from Bay Area artists and folk art. In addition, the silent auction will include a selection of interesting wines.

100% of proceeds will be donated to the following charity organizations:
American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Partners in Health and Unicef. These organizations are instrumental in the current emergency as well as the massive reconstruction effort that must begin in the near future.

Sunday February 21st
Silent Auction 12- 4.30pm / Live Auction 5.00pm
Tiburon Town Hall, 1505 Tiburon Blvd
Payment by check only please.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Open Source Hardware

The Riversimple's eco-friendly car project is also supporting an open source hardware community.

Alex McDonald writes in the Ecologist Magazine:
"...what is extraordinary about Riversimple is that their business model is trying to move away from the current auto industry practice that has left us with the inefficient, one-size-fits-all car.

The first departure from the conventional business plan is that the designs of the car will be released under an open source licence. This allows people to freely build on ideas and designs, speeding up innovation and enabling technologies to be quickly improved, meeting the needs of people rather than markets.
'There is such a yawning gap between the environmental performance of cars and what is sustainable, that I don’t believe a purely competitive world can ever get us there,' says Hugo Spowers, the brains behind Riversimple.

'[open source] really does produce this constant and very rapid drive toward absolute excellence, which I think is needed in the current circumstances. I have precious little faith in regulation ever pushing us in that direction.'

Good Luck to them!
For more info see Riversimple.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Distributed Disktrasa

Thank you to Hillevi for the beautiful crocheted dishcloth (disktrasa in Swedish). It's so carefully made, in fantastic magenta and purple, that I can hardly bring myself to use it. But a quick peek at the disktrasa website shows many dishcloths in action. Hopefully my dishcloth will be featured there soon along with an ever growing network of distributed disktrasa.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Unstitched ethnic revivalism

I came across this interesting observation in Pelto's rare book about the impact of snowmobile on the Skolt Sami in northern Finland in the 1970s and 1980s. He describes craft training as ‘employment’ training, for people who did not previously necessarily define themselves as ‘unemployed’. He writes:

“De-localization and reactions to it, are also evident in the increased ethnic revivalism among the Skolt Sami, beginning in the middle of the late 1970s. Curiously, the ethnic revivalism is in part linked directly to national unemployment policies. Two important changes occurred in the unemployment patterns in Sevettijarvi which reflect aspects of Finnish government policies. Housewives became eligible for unemployment benefits, and the well-organised system of vocational training was expanded to include instruction in traditional handicrafts. Skolt women had already embarked on a program to revive traditional weaving of woollen wall hangings. Women on the unemployment rolls were given per diem allowances plus transportation to participate in weaving classes, then leatherwork (using reindeer and sheep hides), beltwork, and constructions of the highly ornate, complicated married women’s headdresses. Basketry made from roots was added in the late 1980s, as well as the making of the traditional male headwear. As a result of these training programme, some Skolt women have begun to make these items for sale to the tourist trade, as well as for local sale and use in connection with ethnic revivalist activities.”
Pertti J. Pelto. (1973/1987) Preface.

Reintroducing traditional craft as 'ethnic revivalism' as process of de-localization is an interesting concept. Today we might think of this process as re-localisation, especially if the materials are sourced locally and the craft enables people to stay in their locales. However, the reality is that craft is usually poorly paid work, and is rarely carried out for purely economic benefit. I wonder about Pelto's definition of 'ethnic revivalist activities', and the way in which tradition is maintained and developed within a community, especially one that has been so severely oppressed. Of course it's impossible to make generalisations about Sami culture across different lands and locations, but ethnic revivalism could be re-read as ethnic continuity.

A few days later I saw some worn out Sami shoes and shoe bands for sale were in a second hand shop in Umeå, with the stitching coming undone, apparently due to animal rights activists entering the shop and damaging the shoes. Another layer of Umeå history is un-stitched into the fabric.