“Free yourself of any traditional concept of what embroidery should be …”
Mariska Karasz, Adventure in Stitches, 1949
In eighteenth-century literature the figure of the woman embroidering not only represented the pinnacle of good-breeding and virtue but also one of sexual provocation. This is because, focused on her stitching, she was exposed to the male gaze. The artist, swany, challenges the traditional decorative connotations of embroidery deliberately going against the assumed decorativeness of needle and thread. With his work, because it often deals with gender issues, he uses embroidery and stitching to deconstruct certain societal perceptions: 1) that it is a craft associated with the feminine (specifically the female sex) and not considered an art form but a craft, 2) the manner in which he creates it which is associated with the masculine (in a factory, on production lines) as well as the non-creative, reproduction of banal images.
In Prick! he presents his recent explorations with embroidery and gender, and which reflect his continued struggle against societal constraints and prejudices.
The artist has an honours degree in visual arts from UNISA and is currently studying for his masters in visual arts. He is employed as the KZN arts mentor lecturer for UNISA (part-time) as well as a designer in the clothing industry (full-time).
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