Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Arlee Barr's Exquisite, Corpse Round Robin

Above: Cache. Detail. Click on image to enlarge.

Above: Cache. Click on image to enlarge. Scroll down for statement.

Above: Shifting Gears. Click on image to enlarge. Scroll down for statement.

Besides being one of the most prolific fiber artists regularly blogging, Arlee Barr has time for trading ATCs, postcards, and challenges, many of which are projects of her own design and organization. The exquisite corpse round robin (ECRR) is one such project on her blog. For a number of years, Arlee Barr lived on a remote island in British Columbia. The only fiber arts community available was on-line. Arlee did not only communicate with other fiber arts in all areas of the world but through her group projects was able to create art with others. Since the inception of CYBER FYBER, Arlee has moved to Calgary but has maintained her cyber community.

Below: Arlee Barr's Statement for Cache
“Cache” is a composite of techniques and ideas, many of which I was exposed to or shared on line, with my “Cyber friends”. The piece initially started as the middle section, a depiction of neurons, the artist’s brain working and assimilating knowledge. A cache was originally defined as a treasure trove or repository of gold and precious items; in our current lexicon, it applies to computers and is a collection of data duplicating original values stored elsewhere or computed earlier, or a temporary storage area where frequently accessed data can be stored for rapid access.

How apt then, that my Cache is both the old and the new, as I incorporate handwork and technology aided machine work.

With cyber connections that potentially develop into real friendships and sharing, there’s still that element of reaching into the dark and not knowing what you will find, or what will touch you. I used dark purple, turquoise and beads to symbolize the image of millions of single bodies sitting in the dark with a lit screen in their faces. Thin, hand dyed fabrics infer old textiles, worn and fragile but still beautiful and useful. Red is for the passion that pours from fingers into text and image. I used see through areas: online, we reveal bits of ourself---skin and feelings, secrets and jealousies, pride and confidence. Metal sparks in the light, little doors and windows, lit by candles in the dark, shared flashes of consciousness, bytes of information. I also incorporated gifts that had been sent: silk paper from Jackie Cardy, angelina fiber and roving from Emmy Schoonbeek, buttons from MaryAnne Richardson, hand dyed fabric from Deb Lacativa, and used rubber, computer parts, hoarded crystals and artificial leaves, fabrics done a decade or more ago in a college setting, and recycled scraps. untying of common threads. I have learned so much on line, made valuable personal and professional connections and been exposed to many different viewpoints. It’s not all harmonious, but it is endlessly fascinating and fulfilling.

Below: Arlee Barr's Statement for Shifting Gears and explanation of the Exquisite Corpse Project.

The Exquisite Corpse, or Le Cadavre Exquis, originated in 1925, first as a word game and then as a graphic exercise by the Surrealists. I decided to incorporate textile techniques and pass it to other players to add their portion to. The first round was a more traditional format that was not successful in every attempt, but still resulted in some wonderful work. Each square after being worked, was covered with only a border left open as a hint to the next player, who had to create imagery that integrated with the lines/colours/shapes evident in that border.

“Shifting Gears” is my 2nd round piece completed by myself and 5 other participants. My first disappeared into Postal Purgatory, an evil anticipated but hoped against by all of us! A different format was used in the 2nd round also, with a design drawn by the “owner”, and then each section interpreted by subsequent players. Clockwise from the top left, the players were Susan Sawatzky, Julie Zaccone Stiller, Reta Brunner, Elizabeth O’Donnell and Donna Royer. My “square” was the central portion.With 2 rounds completed now, we have 36 original “Exquisite Corpses” done in a plethora of techniques from artists with novice, intermediate and advanced skill levels, and who have shared and explored new methods and materials, though remaining true to the textile format. As it has all been about online communication, the handling of each piece by each “player” has for the most part been a mystery until the owner gets the whole back. Our players are from around the world, including Canada, the US, the UK, Netherlands, and France.A third round is in the signup stage and will go back to a more formal exercise, again with players from around the world.


arlee said...

Thank you Suze! I'm honoured to be asked, and thrilled to participate. Really looking forward to such an eclectic show!

arlee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
arlee said...

Lookin' good now:}

KaiteM. said...

Cache looks so rich, very much the treasure trove, such a wealth and depth of ideas and connections. Perhaps it's a 'self portrait'? :o)K.