Patchwork Panel: Conceptualising Seams that Separate and Stitch Together

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The panel will explore how meaning is created through the process of arranging and re-arranging fragments; how meaning is created through patches and quilting.
Dates: 
Tuesday, 20 September, 2011 - 13:00 - 14:30
Chair Person: 
Åsa Ståhl
Chair Person: 
Kristina Lindstrom
Presenters: 
Melin Margareta
Presenters: 
Johanna Rosenqvist
Patchwork Panel at Krets

Chair: Åsa Ståhl
2nd Chair: Kristina Lindström

The panel will explore how meaning is created through the process of arranging and re-arranging fragments; how meaning is created through patches and quilting. Our proposed format is a patchwork panel, i.e. a conversation between knowledgeable people through story patchwork quilting.

The panelists, and other invited guests, prepare ”text-patches” as notes or reminders of what to say. These text-patches – in paper or textile in A4 format – can have images, concepts, words written or stitched on them. The text-patches are put on the floor in front of the audience. The workings of the seminar is such that none of the panelists can assume to put down all of the patches in her own preferred order as this patchwork seminar format presupposes that anyone could continue on the thread of thoughts put down on the floor, and thus creating a new pattern. Also, the audience is invited interact and intervene by putting down its own text-patches on the floor.

A possible agenda could be:

*  Introduction of the panelists.
*  Lindström and Ståhl introduce the idea of the patchwork seminar and hand out A4-papers to the audience.
*  Lindström and Ståhl put down the first patch: to tell stories of an SMS-embroidery feuilleton written in gallery Krets in 2009. SMS-embroidery feuilleton is a way of telling stories together in what we call an editorial sewing circle.
*  Melin situates text-message embroidery in the context of editorial boards, and refers media production studies.
*  Rosenqvist situates the text-message embroidery in the context of traditional sewing circles with references to art-history.
*  The actual patch-work seminar opens up with panelists and the audience putting down patches.
*  At the end, the bunch of patches on the floor can be stitched/glued together and kept as a documentation of the patchwork seminar.
*  The patches could become part of a future quilt.

Paper Abstracts

SMS-embroidery-feuilleton

by Åsa Ståhl and Kristina Lindström

SMS-embroidery-feuilleton is a way of telling stories together on several levels; an embroidered feuilleton as well as the oral stories told and shared while embroidering it. The storytelling is situated in what we call an editorial sewing circle.

An SMS about anger was circulated on, for example, Facebook, in a display window of the Gallery KRETS and the street-magazine Aluma in Malmö, Sweden. This was the invitation to take part in the writing of a feuilleton made out fragments of stories stored in peoples mobile phone inboxes; close to their bodies and everyday lives. Participants could embroider their SMS by hand or forward it to an embroidery machine.
When the participants spent some time in the sewing circle they usually also started to tell the other participants about what is not said in the short text message. An embroidering in words, and not only textile took place. At the end of the project, participants were invited to form a temporary editorial board about what sequence to put the embroidered SMS into. This version was later published in the street magazine Aluma.

SMS that were written to be part of one set of relations, usually not aimed to be connected to other stories nor to be published, is in the SMS-embroidery-feuillton given attention and brought into a new set of relations. In momentarily arranging the embroidered SMS into what the participants decided to be a meaningful story and publishing it with gaps and holes, our attentions is drawn to the seems that separate as well as hold together the narrative, which constantly can be ripped and re-arranged and re-stitched.
Through the combination of the practices of text messaging, embroidery and the genre of the feuilleton, we put focus on narratives and practices that rarely are part of headlines.  Stories that are absent present.

The Power Play of Editorial Patchwork

by Dr. Margareta Melin

Using the language of Journalism studies and theories of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, and my own experience of conducting an editorial board at a text-message sewing circle I will in this paper discuss the gendered practices of collective story telling in traditional news-medium as well as in traditional patchwork sewing circles. Both these – equally traditional – practices produce products with collective narrative: pieces of news and patchwork quilt respectively. In both practices the decisions of what narrative that is important enough to be printed or sewn is made in a collective gathering: the editorial board and the sewing circle respectively. The differences are however vast, and go beyond medium production processes and economy. The practices are construed on either side of the gender-dichotomy.

The editorial board in the field of journalism is a place of male power and sites of conflict and power play, where editors patch together tomorrow’s edition by sharing out pieces of news to journalists. The hardest and hottest pieces are mostly awarded to male journalists, whereas lesser status soft news is given to female journalists. In order to cope in journalism, many female journalists use guerrilla tactics.
The editorial sewing circle can similarly be understood as a guerrilla tactic. It crosses the gender-line by taking something construed as soft, female, unimportant, private hobby, and placing it in a hard, important, public, artistic, digital media landscape.

The Sewing Circle Method of Working Under Cover

by Dr. Johanna Rosenqvist

This presentation is a means of conceptually examining the sewing circle as under cover method to induce power into an unequal power structure. I will introduce historical as well as artistic predecessors. Historically, the sewing circle seems to have been used disguising power under the cloak of meeting for an ostensibly lesser cause while really discussing important matters. Women have created semi-secret discussion groups, let the men have the formal power, but not formally renounced the power of influence. The sewing society is another example of a covert public realm where women have turned the unpaid time to benefit the community. It is more open in form than the closed circle and is known to have existed in Sweden at least since 1840. Throughout the twentieth century this labour has been professionalised within handicraft associations while lately venturing into relational aesthetics. During the presentation I will exemplify with some of the many contemporary artists who have continued to use the under cover method of the sewing circle as well as the power to transform private household chores into public art.

Bios of the Participants

Åsa Ståhl

Åsa Ståhl is a PhD student in Media and Communication studies at the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University. She holds an MA in Radio from Goldsmiths, London. Her artistic and academic collaboration with Kristina Lindström started off at the IT-research institute Interactive Institute and was further developed when they recieved artistic development funds from Swedish Research Council (2006-07). At the moment the two are doing a collaborative PhD-project.  Åsa has exhibited her artwork in Europe, Asia and the America and also publishes journalistic material in print and broadcast.

Kristina Lindström

Kristina Lindström is a  PhD-student in Interaction design at the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University. Her artistic and academic collaboration with Kristina Lindström started off at the IT-research institute Interactive Institute and was further developed when they recieved artistic development funds from Swedish Research Council (2006-07). At the moment the two are doing a collaborative PhD-project.  Kristina has exhibited her artwork in Europe, Asia and the America.

Margareta Melin

Margareta Melin, Dr. PhD in Journalism, Associate Professor / Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University. Her research lies in the crossroad of journalism studies, feminism, cultural studies and artistic research. Melin’s artistic practice lies in the realm of textile, and Melin has worked as textile designer and costume designer.

Johanna Rosenqvist

Johanna Rosenqvist, Dr. completed her PhD in Art History and Visual Culture, at Lund University in 2007. Her dissertation interrogates the institutional boundaries of Art through examining the aesthetics of sexual difference in the case of Swedish Handicraft of the 1920s and 1990s. Since 2007 she has been teaching Design and Art History and Visual Culture at Linnæus University, Växjö, Sweden where she is tenured Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor. Presently Rosenqvist is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Cultural Sciences at Lund University, researching performative aspects of arts and crafts. As KOEFF her artistic practice lies in producing noise and performing at venues mainly in Sweden but also in Germany and China.