[ISEA2011] Panel: Jo­hanna Rosen­qvist – The Sewing Cir­cle Method of Work­ing Under Cover

Panel Statement

Panel: Patchwork Panel: Conceptualising Seams that Separate and Stitch Together

This pre­sen­ta­tion is a means of con­cep­tu­ally ex­am­in­ing the sewing cir­cle as under cover method to in­duce power into an un­equal power struc­ture. I will in­tro­duce his­tor­i­cal as well as artis­tic pre­de­ces­sors. His­tor­i­cally, the sewing cir­cle seems to have been used dis­guis­ing power under the cloak of meet­ing for an os­ten­si­bly lesser cause while re­ally dis­cussing im­por­tant mat­ters. Women have cre­ated semi-se­cret dis­cus­sion groups, let the men have the for­mal power, but not for­mally re­nounced the power of in­flu­ence. The sewing so­ci­ety is an­other ex­am­ple of a covert pub­lic realm where women have turned the un­paid time to ben­e­fit the com­mu­nity. It is more open in form than the closed cir­cle and is known to have ex­isted in Swe­den at least since 1840. Through­out the twen­ti­eth cen­tury this labour has been pro­fes­sion­alised within hand­i­craft as­so­ci­a­tions while lately ven­tur­ing into re­la­tional aes­thet­ics. Dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion I will ex­em­plify with some of the many con­tem­po­rary artists who have con­tin­ued to use the under cover method of the sewing cir­cle as well as the power to trans­form pri­vate house­hold chores into pub­lic art.

  • Dr. Jo­hanna Rosen­qvist com­pleted her PhD in Art His­tory and Vi­sual Cul­ture, at Lund Uni­ver­sity in 2007. Her dis­ser­ta­tion in­ter­ro­gates the in­sti­tu­tional bound­aries of Art through ex­am­in­ing the aes­thet­ics of sex­ual dif­fer­ence in the case of Swedish Hand­i­craft of the 1920s and 1990s. Since 2007 she has been teach­ing De­sign and Art His­tory and Vi­sual Cul­ture at Linnæus Uni­ver­sity, Växjö, Swe­den where she is tenured Se­nior Lec­turer/As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor. Presently Rosen­qvist is a post­doc­toral fel­low in the De­part­ment of Cul­tural Sci­ences at Lund Uni­ver­sity, re­search­ing per­for­ma­tive as­pects of arts and crafts. As KOEFF her artis­tic prac­tice lies in pro­duc­ing noise and per­form­ing at venues mainly in Swe­den but also in Ger­many and China.