LA TAPISSERIE DE BAGNOLET / THE BAGNOLET TAPESTRY. 2009. Cotton, linen, computerised embroidery (Bernina, Application: Designer 6). 60 x 700 cm
Embroidery is a tedious and repetitive activity and as such, has a hypnotic, anaesthetic capacity, surprisingly indispensable to modern life. Fascinated by the idea of lonely ladies in their castles, embroidering exploits of their long awaited lovers, perhaps also influenced by Sister Anne of Bluebeard fame, a finger pricked on a spinning wheel spindle, Guillaume away at the wars … I often dreamed of that piece of fabric, the survivor of many centuries: «The Bayeux Tapestry ».
Embroidery is a repetitive activity that can drive one wild. A fantasy of total control over a fleeing and soft material. Soft and delicious. A fantasy of sensuality at the prick of a needle point.
Fairy tales, and fairies too “When you hear the fairy Tinkerbell, turn the page” … The history of the Bayeux Tapestry is less romantic. Designed by an artist and embroidered by the workers of an embroidery workshop, it still possesses an impressive power of evocation.
Instant perception of a bed sheet, a bride’s trousseau, embroidered with her emblem, her letter. A letter on which she will write her life, beginning in the bridal bed… but I digress
Embroidery. I indulged myself, like with a drug. Each day listening to the sounds of the world on radio transcribing and sketching the images seen in newspapers, I devoted myself to my needle.
Embroidery is a meticulous and repetitive activity. The accumulation of tiny dots, mere details you could say, strangely generates the entire shape and restores the vitality and gesture of drawing. It is an activity of contradictions, an activity of violent encounters. The impact between an ancient technique (ancestral) and modern technology (an embroiderer steered by a PC). Impact of the subjects with the topic: “feminine softness” and violence of the world. What lies hidden, the intimacy of the home (the highest tower of the castle) and all that lies outside – the suffering that does not concern me.
I do not care for my species, we’re dirty and we stink. Not nice. I prefer to watch the washing go round through the porthole in the door of the washing machine.
Out of what appears to be complete chaos emerges the basic, stable theme; relentless violence and destruction. At last, a glimmer of hope, “Enter the second life”, a virtual universe as stupid as Reality.
Solid as a rock, keeping a steady course.
A worm I tell you! Squirming, wriggling its behind. A limited outlook. No low-minded ideas now, keep to your needlework my dear. And keep you bum on the chair, just in case it gets too heated watching the world go by.
Drawing too is steady and reassuring. Over the ages from Leonardo da Vinci to Picasso, and Alechinsky.
Embroider, be good.
Embroidering like telling all these tales, the world that bursts and burps into my studio with its broken bodies and stitched-up faces, so many scars to put on the canvas and tame them better. Body parts all stitched up again, torn flesh spread out on the pages of newspapers, haunt my dreams. I sew them all day. Yet more flesh, meat on display in butchers’ shops, take over from the Bagnolet Tapestry. Fillet steak, T-bone steak and black-pudding, all in their tidy, branded packs that I embroider with little stitches like so many still-lifes. Violence is rampant and the thread of the canvas a sort of barrier against the poisoned apple.
Embroider to assemble, to sew together all these pieces of my scattered being, strewn into the various corners of my work, divided between painting on a sheet of newspaper, installations and things that tell stories in the language of my love of words, and performances with my fellow poets (Fabienne Yvert and Jacques Rebotier in particular).
Centring-down to release the vision from its frame.
Language is also for stitching words together. Sit! Stay!