Purls of wisdom


There has been a slew of radical textile projects of late, it seems, although there is always a longer history than we realize:

Germaine Koh’s Knitwork, which she describes as a lifeling project, began in 1992. Periodically, Germaine makes an appointment with the registrar at the Art Gallery of Ontario to knit one purl two, adding to her work. More recently, see Cat Mazza’s microRevolt; Rachel Beth Egenhoefer’s KNiiTTiiNG – knitting for the Ninetendo Wii and virtual knitting; which reminds me of Stephanie Rothenberg and Jeff Crouse’s Invisible Threads.

And there are many, many other projects, but spurred by Forecaster2’s Overview of Nouveau Graffiti, I want to call attention to the blog on Etsy about Magda Sayeg’s Knitta. The intro about “tomasons” is worth quoting:

“‘The apartment I moved into has a tomason,’ said Rachel, my friend Tom’s girlfriend. ‘A what?’ I asked, thinking it was some sort of poltergeist. ‘It’s this old, weird metal thing sticking out of the wall,’ Rachel explained. ‘I’m not sure, but I think it used to be a fixture when there were gas lights.’ ‘A tomason,’ my friend Tom, a book editor, followed up, ‘is a word coined by a Japanese artist Genpei Akasegawa. It’s in this book I’m publishing in June called Portrait with Keys by Ivan Vladislavić.’ According to Wikipedia, Genpei Akasegawa used this word to refer to useless street objects that happen to look like conceptual art.

Tomasons are a little more banal that ghosts, and I’ve found them much easier to spot, now that this unlikely word is in my head. Tomasons now appear before me on my daily walk to work. Before I hadn’t noticed them; they’d flowed together in the continuous stream of my peripheral vision. It occurred to me that they are part of what makes up our general experience of grit and urban decay. An army of tomasons stands silently at attention, arming the city with strong stuff like metal poles and concrete abutments. And then one day, out of the blue, a steel door handle is decked out in a brightly colored knit cozy.

Sayeg uses her knitting to “tag” tomasons!