“‘Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting.” Have you heard of it? It’s a new, left-wing hobby on display at a New York art museum. Not your grandma’s needlework:
Some of the artists address ”issues of politics, gender and ethics,” as a wall text puts it, in a general way. Janet Echelman’s giant, hand-knotted nylon net hanging from the ceiling in the museum’s entryway recreates the look of a nuclear mushroom cloud. Freddie Robins’s sinister-looking gray-knit bodysuit, with the words ”Craft Kills” emblazoned across the chest, alludes to the airline ban on knitting needles in the post-9/11 era.
The works most in keeping with the show’s politically charged title are more interactive and collective, or more related to performance. For example, Cat Mazza’s collectively crocheted ”Nike Blanket Petition,” a campaign against sweatshop practices represented here in a series of photographs, will be sent to Nike’s corporate headquarters.
A video of Dave Cole’s ”Knitting Machine” project shows two John Deere excavators wielding telephone poles tapered to look like knitting needles — and missiles — to knit a giant American flag in the courtyard of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass.
Sabrina Gschwandtner, an artist and founder of KnitKnit magazine, has set up a ”Wartime Knitting Circle” surrounded by panels made of industrially knitted photos of Vietnam War protesters knitting, British women knitting woolen covers for World War II hand grenades, soldiers knitting during World War I.
She invites people to join her in knitting ”blankets for recovery” for people in Afghanistan and troops convalescing in military hospitals, among other projects. (On the exhibition’s opening day, Ms. Gschwandtner was chatting and knitting with Phyllis Rodriguez, whose son died in the north tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11 and who has since befriended Aïcha el-Wafi, mother of Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent serving a life sentence after his conspiracy conviction in the 9/11 attacks.
Non-“subversive” knitters and crocheters can make projects for the troops here.