Five sheets totalling 467.9 metres
In this work textile artist Emma Linde has used a few ordinary items from our everyday life and given them a new form and meaning. Five bed sheets have been torn into shreds that in turn have been rolled up into a tart-like and circular horizontal form. Utility articles have been converted into an art object, but it is in fact not this particular transformation that holds our greatest interest here. Instead of theoretical issues regarding its identity, it is the object’s place in the physical world that insists on claiming our attention. How are we to approach this bewildering thing, and what is its relation to its surroundings?
On one level everything is most concrete. The compositional idea is simple, and the artist seems to have been driven by her interest in the tangible quality of her material. The varying colour of each individual sheet reveals the material construction of this new object, and at the same time form the appearance of a target board that self-confidently proclaims, “Here it is!” The gaze is drawn towards the centre, but also towards the printed text that runs around the edges, matter-of-factly telling us the exact total length of the combined shreds. The object so to speak refers back to itself, giving us an account of its own constitution.
The movement towards the middle, the centre, contrasts with the sense of dimensions and extension conveyed by the pronounced length of the shreds. Here we perceive a tension between the object’s concentration and the potential disintegration of its form. In a rolled-out state, the shreds could be used to cordon off an area or, as in a classic adventure story, be tied together to form the fugitive’s escape route to freedom – a temporary connection between the window of the prison cell and the ground below. They could also lend themselves to, say, use as a bandage or as weaving material for a rag rug. The centre of gravity in our perception of the figure lies not in what its material used to be, but in what it could become, what forms it could assume, what roles and what kind of places it could occupy. Notwithstanding the marked, distinct shape of the form, one senses the presence of a future disintegration or transformation.
Such transformative potential of the material lends itself to interpretation as a metaphor for the multiple, shifting identities of the crafts and their ability to function in different ways in varying contexts. The slightly absurd way in which the measured length of the shredded sheets is brought up also indirectly reminds us that quantitative assessment only yields limited information of the work. What it all concerns here has to do with more than merely the measurable qualities of the material, and the work can be gauged in more ways than one.
Emma Linde (b. 1972 Sweden) is a textile artist and lives in Gothenburg.
Emma Linde, Five sheets totalling 467.9 metres, 2001, screen print on rolled-up shreds of bed sheets, h. 4 cm, diam. 40 cm.
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