One Stitch at a Time is presented in the context of FADO’s ongoing Public Spaces / Private Places series and begins with an artist talk in Toronto. The project then continues, over several weeks in residency with three separate families.
This project follows upon and works with the tradition of the itinerant seamstress, who once moved into the homes of the people whose clothing she made. For One Stitch at a Time, over the course of several weeks, Devora Neumark will take up residence with three separate host families for as long as it takes her to stitch (crochet or embroider) a personalized object for a family member or the home.
One Stitch at a Time honours intimate spaces as a means of community engagement. It is an invitation to share and explore daily life and issues of the heart through personal storytelling and stitching. This participatory process is a key component, as the work is not meant primarily as a viewing experience. In the deliberate blurring of roles – invoking a question of who is the audience and who are the performers – is a statement about the capacity for each and every one of us to be authorizing agents of individual and collective memory and history.
To date my projects have included durational performative interventions on street corners, in subway stations and bus terminals, private homes and outdoor parks; place-mats inserted into restaurants; postcards; photographic works installed as memorial structures in public gathering places; stone markers, storytellings, sound pieces, and community based collaborations.
Working within seemingly ‘ordinary’ frames of action (peeling beets, crocheting, singing, telling stories, making dough, sweeping flour, walking the landscape), the contexts that I create for my work are in many ways a (re)negotiation of daily dwelling practice — attempts at rewiring both self and society in the aftermath of violence and trauma. Performative rather than performance, the work has been characterized by a direct sharing and exchange with the individuals who come across it (mostly incidentally) and who choose to approach / witness / participate.
I have been concerned with the authority of memory, social agency in the memorial form(s) and the negotiation of control and authority inherent in historical and cultural constructions and their representations. I place a particular importance on the continuum between the private and public spheres (the individual and the social body) and on the nexus between public(s) and community(ies).
Devora Neumark, 1999
The artist wishes to thank The Canada Council’s Inter-Arts Program and SKOL, a Montreal-based artist-run centre, for their support of this project.