Category Archives: musings

International Art English – around the web

I recall earlier this year there was a large discussion about “International Art English” (IAE) on some of the mail lists – on empyre-l, nettime-l, and articles on triple canopy and hyperallergic & the guardian newspaper site.

there was a conference held this year on the topic also — “Critical Language — A forum on International Art English”. I’ve posted the blurb below for reference. I’ve asked them if there was a recording of the sessions to listen to. will add links if they reply.

some other articles about it:

users guide to international art english — on the Guardian website

When Artspeak Masks Oppression — on hyperallergic

International Art English — on triple canopy

Grayson Perry talks about it in the 2013 Reith Lectures


Critical Language
A forum on International Art English
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn, NY
Saturday, April 6, 2013, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
$5 suggested donation

“International Art English,” published in Triple Canopy in July, has circulated widely and generated debates about the relationship between language, legibility, and power in the art world. The authors of the article, Alix Rule and David Levine, analyze a corpus of press releases circulated by e-flux in order to describe the language of contemporary art. They trace the particularities of this language to English translations of critical texts published in the 1970s in journals like October. The widespread use of the Internet has, they argue, accelerated the development of IAE, turning it into a kind of lingua franca; the proliferation of international variations—French IAE, Scandinavian IAE, Chinese IAE—ends up diluting the authority of critics, “traditionally the elite innovators of IAE.” Given these developments, Rule and Levine ask: “Can we imagine an art world without IAE? Without its special language, would art need to submit to the scrutiny of broader audiences and local ones? Would it hold up?”

With this forum, Triple Canopy hopes to provoke a critical response to the article, consider questions and perspectives eschewed by the authors, and solicit the perspectives of those who work with (or resist working with) IAE, whether they are critics, curators, educators, or publicists. Specifically, the discussion will focus on the political implications and uses of IAE, within and outside of the art world. “Thanks to International Art English, the artist can still appear vaguely subversive and the host state committed to openness, a mutual saving of face,” writes Mostafa Heddaya in a recent essay for Hyperallergic. How does such “critical” language direct attention away from the suppression of political dissent, especially when employed by institutions—and their proxies—operating in environments marred by human-rights violations, such as China and the UAE (or even the US)? How does obfuscation slip into propaganda? And do those who regularly produce IAE experience the language as burdensome or liberating, a welcome tool for the diffusion of power or another step toward a global standard of ambiguity and opacity?

The forum will be facilitated by Nathalie Anglès, Wenzel Bilger, Lauren Cornell, Mariam Ghani, Mostafa Heddaya, David Levine, Alexander Provan, Yael Reinharz, Alix Rule, Lumi Tan, and Hrag Vartanian.


Grayson Perry – The Reith Lectures 2013

I had a listen to the first lecture of Grayson Perry – The Reith Lectures 2013 a couple of weeks ago. I loved his comments and disregard (?) of the artworld and his analysis of International Art English language.

since coming across this, I heard also that Grayson Perry and Brian Eno are working together. I can’t wait to see/hear what comes of this collaboration!

the BBC blurb:
“The award-winning artist Grayson Perry presents the 2013 BBC Reith Lectures, titled Playing to the Gallery. Across four programmes he discusses what makes him an artist, the limits of contemporary art, how to gauge the quality of new artworks and the future of the avant-garde.” – podcasts of the lectures & related material – Democracy Has Bad Taste: Grayson Perry: Playing to the Gallery: 2013 Episode 1 of 4

I see that the first lecture is also available on youtube

Grayson Perry- Reith Lecture No.1: Democracy Has Bad Taste


circle stitching

well, I was trying a knit-a-year project but since I don’t have much yarn here (on overseas trips) and have been more interested in stitching and embroidery lately, I’ve decided to shift to a stitch-a-day project instead. I might use my other blog for another project so will relocate the articles here (or add to the previous post).

my first attempt – I’ve been totally inspired by the work of Junko Oki and since attempting to stitch circles in a modified blanket stitch, I can see more clearly just how fine and free her beautiful stitching is. mine feels large and clumsy in comparison, so I will need to practice more to create smaller stitches. also, I need to bring more fabric to use as a background as on this trip I only have some calico, and a couple of coloured threads.

there’s lots of circles & other textures in the hotel room. the carpet has concentric circles – a bit like the Maori koru shape. I like the red crushed velvet lounge chair in the room too – it has some nice lines and shapes in the shadows


06/10 update:
I stitched some more circles and other shapes this weekend

Junko Oki – stitching circles

tonight I’ve been taking a look at embroidery by Junko Oki – she has some beautiful pieces. I love her use of circles and lines.

I emailed her to order a copy of her new book, “Culte a la Carte” (I think her first book has sold out), and mentioned I was doing a textiles course and had been enjoying embroidery. I asked if hers was all stitched by hand or mixed with machine embroidery too. she responded,

“I’m glad to you interested in my work.
My work is stitched by hand all.
I do not have that you have to study about embroidery .
I have the feeling produced in like writing a picture.”

the circles are intricate rows of fine blanket stitch, with lines in running stitch and some feather stitch. lots of “sun” themes. I’m really loving it. the imperfections and textures created by the stitching mixed with the choice of textures and colours of the fabrics as the backgrounds. I’m looking forward to the book arriving so I can see more of her work.

I love some of the backside stitches, ie via February 2012:


from Dee’s Hall from October 2012 – a lovely portrait of a woman’s profile.

& a closeup of the spheres from April 2013

I love this one, with the stripey, business shirt or crisp new bed linen / sheets type pleats, darts, gathers & smocking to create movement and shape in 3D, and how the stitched parts of the fabric are chaotic and textured with layers of white and black threads, and complemented with the reddish-brown layer – they draw the eye in and let you explore the stitches as well as the joins of the different fabrics, and edges of the fabric. I love the ripped / torn edges on the lower part of the piece. there’s a range of sewing techniques shown around the edges of the stitching, and decorated & highlighted by the stitches. the top of the photo shows order and crispness with a starch ironed feel which reminds me of work / business shirts, whilst the bottom of the photo shows more flowing, free & lighter fabrics for holidays and home wear. to me it feels like it’s a mix of the fabrics of a life, and the phases of our lives.

rainy today from october 2012 also.

classwork whilst away

I’ve been away from my class materials since working on this new work project. which means I haven’t had as much fabric, paints, threads, the sewing machine etc to work with. I found an app called art set on the itunes app store and tried it out on the flight home last week. it’s pretty good. it has a large range of colours, and background “paper” with different textures and colours and weights – actually more than I have at home. plus multiple pens, pencils, felt pens, paints, crayons, sponges, erasers, water for smudging edges, and the app is really easy to use. it’s not the same as using the materials by hand of course, but I think it does replicate the styles / effects the materials have quite well. and it was only 99cents. wish I’d known about this prior to spending a couple of hundred dollars on a much smaller range of pens and paints! I tried a few simple mark making exercises, then I took a photo from the front airplane camera (was my first time on an A380 & it has camera views on the tv/entertainment system – a view from the front of the plane, below near the wings, and looking towards the tail of the plane) and made a drawing of the view.

knit a year

I’m going to try the knit a year project after hearing about it from Michelle from Reef Knot (& recently 107 projects). the aim is to knit a minimum of 2 rows each day, using a different colour to reflect my mood for the day & leaving a thread at the edge of the piece to show the start of each day

knitrageous has written a great post about the project – she travels also so has similar issues to me, ie not having your yarn stash with you all the time.
I think it’ll be an exploration in colour and texture – perhaps I’ll add some embroidery over the yarn, or try some weaving also.

as I’m traveling at the moment, I don’t have my yarn stash available so I brought some multi-coloured sock yarn with me and will use different colours from this whilst away. it means cutting up the yarn and thereby ruining the skein but this should be OK – I can always join threads if needs be.

I cast on 23 stitches, which is different to the instructions, but 23 has a bit of maybe logic flavour to it. I think I’ll leave tails on both sides too
traveling yarn stash

day1: I chose the blue for day 1 as I’d woken at 3:15am to catch a 6:30am flight to Auckland, and had napped briefly on the flight but was surprisingly still awake when I began. though due to the hypnotic, relaxing state of knitting the rows, I was nodding off before the end of row 2, so it was a slow start to the project!
day1 – knit a year

day2: I chose a dark, muted green coloured yarn as I was so tired – the whole day was spent in a fog. it felt like the world was muted for me.

day3: I had really good news today – finding out that my friend is pregnant so I chose the brightest, happiest colour I have here – gold. after I’d done a few rows the gold started to become more brown than gold so I stopped early.

day4: today was a mixed day, I woke to the news of friend posting on facebook that his mother – who suffered from cancer had passed away. a good day at work. my friend’s birthday. another couple of friends’ 21st wedding anniversary. so I started with blue, but the yarn changed to a purple/grey colour.
during week2

hotel room patterns

I’ve been staying in the same hotel for the past few weeks in Auckland, in different rooms each trip. I have been noticing the different patterns in the furnishings and textiles in the room. the room I’m in now has a mixture of lines and circles – none of them perfectly shaped. they have a nice feel about them, and match the nearby building’s outer surfaces too. the carpet lines in the corridors flow through to match the blanket on the bed which has similar curves stitched onto the ends of the blanket.

Globe service

I put the sewing machine in for a service at Chatswood Sewing Centre prior to my work trip & collected it on saturday. it’s working much better! the dropped stitches problem from my previous attempts has been fixed – apparently this is caused by the timing being out, so the position of the bobbin & needle are mismatched which cause it to drop stitches intermittently.

I tried some machine embroidery and had much better results too! I haven’t worked out the full control of the machine in freehand mode but I made some marks with it, and some circles. I also did another test swatch with straight stitches (in normal sewing mode) and the decorative stitches, and they’re all looking much better.

the fabric is bunching a bit with the stitches. I just grabbed the first scrap of fabric from one of my bags, so I’ll have to try some plain cotton too to see if that helps. also I think I need to guide the fabric more carefully and perhaps hold it taut more whilst moving it around, so it doesn’t bunch up more.
zoomed in: (I need to rescan this – the scan came out blurry in parts)

I really like the stitches underneath the fabric too (rear view). I’ve been reading a book by …(fill in during week) and noticed that she often uses the technique of machine embroidery on the wrong side of the fabric and turning it over. this might be something to practice more. I won’t have access to the machine for a while but will try this again.
zoomed in: (I need to rescan this – the scan came out blurry in parts)

SonUmbra & Solar Harvesting Textiles

this week I’m away from home, and have been sick. it’s thursday and the first day my head’s felt clear in ages. after a week of early night’s sleep with nighttime cold’n’flu tablets I’m finally catching up on some class work.

tonight I came across these projects:

  • loop.pH design studio’s project “SonUmbra” – experiments in responsive textile architecture.
    “SonUmbra is a solar-powered tree composed of strands of light-emitting fabric woven into a lucent web of branches. The installation’s canopy of photovoltaic panels captures light during the day, and once the sun sets the tree blooms in an interactive flourish of light and sound.”
    this looks great – it seems like they’re using fibre obtic cables? I have to research this some more. their photos on flickr show some of the projects and installation.
    image via C-Monster<> at
  • Solar Harvesting Textiles – a project by Sheila Kennedy that I came across via this article on their Soft House. according to the article, Kennedy hopes that “textiles will soon be able to take the sun’s energy and turn it into electricity”. . . .”The Soft House is a structure that can create close to 16,000 watt-hours of electricity by transforming household curtains into flexible, semi-transparent, solar collectors.”. whilst this system is too expensive to use practically now, with Moore’s Law it won’t be long before these sort of fabrics will be in regular use.
    image via & soft house article on Inhabitat site

craftivist collective mini protest banner kit

I’ve been looking through the craftivist collective website and some of their projects. they do many fibre / textiles / craft based activism (craftivism) projects to raise issues to people in the community. they also write about slow activism and the importance of personal reflection when making – I love this idea and it’s something people can do from home without having to be too vocal (verbally) with their ideas – work on projects to highlight issues they think are important. so I purchased one of their mini protest banner kits and it arrived from the UK yesterday. tonight I embroidered a message and sewed the aida onto the fabric. it was the first time I’ve embroidered letters so the first couple of lines are a bit wonky (especially the “D”), and I found it easier to write in all caps so I’m probably shouting the message, but I was getting the hang of it towards the end (though I ran out of space on the last line – need to plan it out next time)

I embroidered the message “what have you done to help lessen climate change” because I think this is one of the most important issues currently facing the world (Earth) and I want people to think about their own behaviours and to find things that they can do at home and in their own lives to help lessen the issue. tomorrow I’ll pin it up outside somewhere – will go looking for a good spot. the kit includes cable ties, and the fabric has holes punched in it already so it should be quick to install. another great thing was the whole project only took me a couple of hours this evening (whilst already pretty tired) so it’s one of the quicker craft / fibre projects I’ve worked on! it’s quite rewarding to see something finished in a short period of time

I made another which says “seeking asylum is not illegal” in response to one of the issues facing Australia at the moment – our politicians are making terrible decisions on our behalf.



I hung the mini-banner up in the street with the warehouse – it’s adjacent to my favourite cafe and has some paintings hanging on the side of the warehouse, plus some graf (which I think was paid for as it’s the suburb name not the artist’s name and this site is being developed into apartments next year and they advertise it as a “cool” location. it’s possibly preaching to the converted in this suburb, but hopefully it’ll make some people think… it’s quite small so hard to see in some of these photos







sat 17/08: I made another mini-banner “seeking asylum is not illegal”. I’ll try hang it near the first banner tomorrow


I installed it near the first banner today