The Perfect: Alex, 2007
machine knitted wool and acrylic yarn (knitted on a Shima Seiki 122 S 10 gauge)
As the title suggests, The Perfect: Alex deals with themes of perfection/imperfection. It is easy to spot the slightly ironic layer behind the claim. It lies deeply rooted in our post-Christian mindset that perfection should be striven for but is impossible to achieve, and least impossible to claim as a personal achievement. In other words: Alex is not perfect in a traditional sense. It seems obvious when looking at the figure; knitted with distinct marks from the knitting process, in the form of an outworn human skin and seemingly coloured with the yarn at hand. Not exactly the image of
What, then, does it communicate?
First, Alex is a part of a series of figures all with the theme of the Perfect. Alex is not the only one of his kind, but one of the early results of a research project, that textile artist Freddie Robins carried out in 2007. The aim was to investigate the aesthetic, artistic potential of the newest knitting technology, which is normally applied to fashion and textiles. The tension between a computerized, automated and highly mass productive commercial technology and the strong artistic expression is striking, and precisely touches on themes of perfection. As a practice with no handicraft skills involved, Alex breaches the inherent idea that the handmade guarantees the ’friendly flaws’ of craft that Bernard Leach and Peter Dormer promoted. The imperfect is not necessarily perfect, and the skill of craft is not necessarily handicraft. In this case it lies in the dominance of a specific medium, and the ability to make it communicate.
In the same way that The Perfect: Alex can be remade infinitely, so can the
interpretation of its meaning. Every time it is repeated, a new meaning turns up, scything out a new interpretation of reality. By this I want to point to the fact that craft objects embody and materialize potentially alternative realities, and this is the reason why I found it interesting to choose the same object as Mònica Gaspar.
Freddie Robins (b. 1965 in Hitchin, Hertfordshire) is a textile artist living and working in London.
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