Links: 09/04/15

Written by Natalie Luhrs

I'm a lifelong geek with a passion for books and social justice.
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September 4, 2015

Noria y olé!

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12 Comments

  1. RedWombat

    *grumble* This idiot: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2726851/Artist-accused-damaging-environment-Mexico.html

    Those were proto-artificial reefs and she’s going “La la, my work is so POSITIVE and about bringing POSITIVITY” and it’s like goddamnit, you just killed a crapton of soft corals with your “positivity.” The quote about “Well, I could knit them more sculptures to pay for it!” makes me want to scream and bite things.

  2. Veronica Schanoes

    The weirdest thing to me about the prosecution of Rentboy is that…it’s not like this is a new phenomenon. Why weren’t they prosecuting The Village Voice back in the day for its many many back pages of sex ads?

  3. PK

    Yarnbombing died for me when I found out about the environmental impact…but it lost ANY edge at all when my area’s primary school parenting group started doing it as a neighbourhood bonding and local spirit project.

    Also, after a week or two of rain and snow and bird poop and Glasgow dirt, the ‘art’ looks like something one of the neighbourhood cats brought in half-dead. They still haven’t taken one bit off the poor tree and it’s been over a year.

  4. bluestgirlblog

    Why does “decorating things with yarn” have to be edgy to be worthwhile? Why isn’t “getting a community together to make a project” a bad thing? Because it isn’t edgy? Is “neighborhood bonding” and “school spirit,” like, a bad goal to have?

    One of the reasons I stayed in the city I’m in, is because of the community projects like painted park benches and tree huggers, which are sponsored by the city, private donations, and local businesses. I like taking part in them, I like walking around and seeing what other people have made, I like living in a city that thinks “community” and “public art” are worth sponsoring.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      I like those things, too, but in many cases the yarn used in yarnbombings would be better used to make clothing for human beings, not trees.

  5. PK

    To be a bit clearer…personally, I appreciate public art, and the rest of the art this group did for the project was great (wicked adorable banners and flags for the Commonwealth Games, lots of stuff with their kids involved). But yarnbombing is both environmentally problematic and particularly impractical in my city’s climate/weather. (By not being edgy, I meant that it’s not exactly hipster material any longer, if it’s now something that a relatively mainstream group would happily do.)

  6. bluestgirlblog

    Natalie, couldn’t the same thing be said of any resource? I mean, even when it’s paint, money bought that paint, and it could be spent on feeding people instead. Every resource that goes towards one thing could be used towards another, and I feel like, when it’s yarn everyone says BUT HATS but when it’s anything else, no one cares. (The yarn does actually wash really well, even after a few months outside, I swear it just gets squishier and softer after being thrown in the dryer, and is generally either turned into blankets, or auctioned for charity afterwards.)

    The city DOES provide resources for the homeless, the people involved DO also knit for hospice, the businesses DO also contribute to charity. Why can’t they do those things AND ALSO do this thing as well without being told that it’s a waste of yarn?

    • Natalie Luhrs

      It sounds to me like your city has a maintenance program in place for the sponsored yarnbombings. That is better than what PK has described and what I’ve seen out in the world–which is grimy, droopy, sad yarn that’s an eyesore. Also I am still traumatized by all the stupid and badly made edgy yarn things posted in the knitting comm on LJ.

  7. bluestgirlblog

    I definitely don’t like ALL examples of yarn bombing (and the term annoys me a lot), but I feel like I’m always seeing people object, not to the specifics of the project (how long will it stay up, is it going to look gross forever, do we know what the effect will be on the tree), but just the WASTE of yarn and time when they could be spent on helping the homeless.

    And it feels to me like the criticism is unequally applied. That FAR fewer people are offended by other kinds of similar projects. (For example, every year people complain about the yarn, but no one ever complains about the painted benches.) I feel like it goes into this idea that if I’m using my knitting skills in a “selfish” manner, that’s wrong, because I should be helping others with it, at all times. (No one ever asks if we ALSO do charity work, they just say “you could spend that time making sweaters instead.”) Or that people understand that paint = legitimate art, but yarn = silly craft. It’s ok to make something “useless” out of paint, but not ok to make something equally useless out of yarn. It’s not any one person, but a pattern I feel like I see over and over.

    In the linked article, I feel like she set up yarn bombing as a subversive act and then criticized it for failing, when I doubt the company being criticized would have ever described it that way in the first place. Sure, some people do. But I think that, like PK said, it lost it’s “edge” a while ago. I think that lots of people doing it aren’t trying to BE edgy in any kind of way. I feel like it’s criticizing people for failing a standard they weren’t aiming for in the first place.

    • Natalie Luhrs

      I guess my perspective has been informed by the 22 year olds who just learned to knit and thought yarnbombing was ~edgy~ among other things of dubious utility. I certainly believe that knitting can be art, but I’m not convinced that yarnbombing is the best way to prove that it is. Does that make sense?

    • bluestgirlblog

      LOL yeah, I work at a university art program, and we are full of 22 year olds trying to be edgy… *sigh* Most of the yarn bombing I’ve seen is more like a fun/cute neighborhood mural. Art in the sense that it exists to be decorative, rather than for a practical purpose, but not necessarily something with conceptual or emotional depth. And I want that to be an OK thing for it to be! I want it to be OK to use things for no other purpose than to decorate our surroundings. I just don’t have a good word for that which is “art” in the sense that it exists to be appreciated for its visual qualities rather than a practical purpose, but isn’t “art” in the sense that it engages the viewer on any kind of deeper level.

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