Friday, November 18, 2011

Knitting graffiti

Wild-knitting has been chosen as the Dutch neologism of 2011. It is sometimes also called knitting graffiti or yarn-bombing. What is it that is so special and beautiful about this that makes it worthy of this title?

Wild-knitting is an embellishment of the urban landscape, otherwise boring, dreadful, cold and soul-less urban elements are cheered up by wrapping them in warm and colourful cosiness, pulling them out of anonymity. It makes us smile. it's often also combined with tongue-in-cheek humour which gives us a big smile. It makes us enjoy the city in a new way. As it says on the site of Yarnbombing; "Improving the urban landscape one stitch at a time".  So contrary to original graffiti this is not aggressive or destroying the urban landscape. This is a protest led by "grannies" not by subversive 'gangs'. Though maybe the "grannies" also work in the shadow when they install the work?
Wild-knitting in the center of Utrecht. Photography Inge Noordijk

Wild-knitting by Breiwerkwest at Westergasterrein, Amsterdam

Wild-knitting by Breiwerkwest at Westergasterrein, Amsterdam

The urban interventions domesticates the urban landscape, it makes it more personal , it's claimed back by us, the inhabitants. Is this the awakening of a new sort of outdoor biedermeier?
Urban lampshade, Amsterdam. Photography Jacomine van Veen

Of course the Wildknitting exhibition in Artis helped create awareness about wild-knitting.
Breiwerkwest dressing some cosiness  on the dinosaur

Stitching graffiti is a more recent variation, using empty fences as canvas. I first saw one of these at Bricklane in London.
Lambrate, Milan during design-week

Zeedijk, Utrecht; "we live not according to reason, but according to fashion"

So there is a kind of activism to wild-knitting and stitching graffiti; this has been coined craftivism, protest through craft. Protesting against a cold male world dominated by power, protesting with softness and warmth. Bringing issues to our attention. When it's not about cheering up the urban landscape craftivism can also be a protest against the fashion-system. Protesting against the never-ending production and consumption of shiny new things by making fashion ourselves, knitting our own clothes. In public to make it clear to the world that we are developing a different view on fashion and consumption.

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