Friday, March 13, 2009

Where I've Been

Photos of being out and about have been piling up on my desktop, since I haven't been taking the time to post them, so I'm just going to throw them all up here now.

Last week, I went to the opening of the Fashioning Felt exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt, which was good -- some very cool objects made of felt. I really dug this moulding. I like familiar objects that are made from unexpected materials.
And they got into some of the aspects in which the material itself informs the objects; there were some dresses that were felted directly into dress shape, rather than making yardage that had to be cut and sewn.

The fancy yurt was pretty spectacular:
I have to say though, that it was not the felt exhibition that I would like to see. I kept thinking what a kick-ass job the Natural History Museum would do with the topic. I think they do the best special exhibitions in the city — their Pearls and Darwin shows were some of the best I've ever seen — and felt is a topic that really deserves an inter-disciplinary treatment. Please note that this is not casting aspersions on the Cooper-Hewitt at all. They're the national design museum; "here's cool stuff" is their mandate. But I would really love to see a felt exhibition that included a scientific component and an industrial component and an anthropological/historical component in addition to the aesthetics. And some examination of the way ancient technologies are being used and adapted today, e.g., Sara Lamb's studio yurt, plus discussion of the whole artisan felt movement.

And it got me thinking about a series of exhibitions based around materials that are still relatively close to their natural source, but modified by humans before being offered up as a raw material. The only other one I could think of was plywood. Honestly, I would love to see a well-done plywood exhibition. Where does the wood come from? How is it made into plywood? What are the environmental implications for that process? What are the human-life implications -- who's doing the work, do they all suffer from, like, Sawdust Lung? What has it traditionally been used for? What kind of quantities are produced and why? Who are the people living in plywood shacks and why? What's up with the move to make somewhat high-end furniture and housewares from it, like this cabinet?
I really like very humble materials treated as though they're precious.

So, I had that idea, but would need at least a third material to round it out before I think about writing up a proposal or anything. There must be something metal that's analogous. Copper maybe? I don't know.

I went to hear my friend Brian read from his book, Feelers:
It's a very good book, and you should all buy it.

And Sunday afternoon, I got to do one of my favorite Sunday afternoon activities, which is walking around aimlessly with my camera. Apparently I still really like graffiti and industrial landscapes.
(oh, THAT's where that is)


Anonymous said...

Love Inner Peace and the rowhouses! In all your spare time (ahem) you might enjoy the book "Metropolitan Corridor" by Joseph Stilgoe. It's about the landscapes that developed around the railroads 1880-1930 - everything from Penn Station to powerplants to small town depots.

Sarah said...

Actually, I think you got it wrong about the show at the CH. I'm not just saying that because I worked my ass off on the show, but because I honestly felt (teehee), inspected and installed it all. If you really looked at the objects and the thesis, I think we did a very good job of communicating the fascinating appeal that felt has in a variety spheres, from the traditional, through craft, and into the industrial realm. If you wanted a scientific exploration of why wool is the only natural fiber that will felt due to its polymeric properties, then you are right, the show would be best at the AMNH...but it would also be a mighty bore for the general populace. Also, might I please take issue with your comment about the museum showing only what is cool. Rather, the museum aims to highlight the way that DESIGN influences our world - yes, that fork you eat with and the needles you knit with. What is the worth of something that looks cool if it doesn't do anything for you? Yet how much more elevated is your daily experience in living if you are actually using objects that are beautifully designed, and well, just plain beautiful?

claudia said...

I also love industrial landscape and graffiti. Great pix!