Decorating Dissidence invites submissions for a pamphlet on radical craft histories and futures…
Decorating Dissidence began in 2017 with a conference on Modernism, Feminism, and the Arts. We were guided by artist Sonia Delauney’s statement: ‘For me, there is no gap between my painting and my so-called ‘decorative’ work. I never considered the ‘minor arts’ to be artistically frustrating; on the contrary, it was an extension of my art’. We wondered why not just women’s art, but specifically so-called feminine arts (such as crafting and art linked to domesticity) were overlooked and marginalised in art narratives. In Faith Ringgold’s words: ‘At one time I thought that what we meant by craft was the use of certain kinds of materials. But that’s not it …because Claes Oldenburg’s soft typewriters are sewn pieces, and I never heard anyone call them craft. It’s who’s doing it that makes it craft.’
In the intervening five years we’ve hosted workshops, exhibitions, an online journal, and a podcast to develop those conversations, and we’ve also seen the landscape change. Huge exhibitions such as Anni Albers and Sophie Tauber-Arp at Tate Modern have put women artists and craft practices in the spotlight. New appreciation for the Gees Bend Quilts have made us think about intergenerational craft skills and alternative aesthetic traditions; shows like Body Vessel Clay at Two Temple Place and the Centre of Ceramic Art have centred previously marginalised histories of making, outside of the white, western, masculine canon. Of course, craft itself is a weighted term, with its own inherent difficulties, hierarchies, and assumptions. Increasingly, craft objects (particularly textiles) are being shown in white cube galleries (and ‘accepted’ into the world of high art). While this is welcome and long overdue, it also raises new questions – how do these objects (made to be handled and used) change when they are placed behind glass and protected against human touch? How does this change our relationship to them? How does art history look different (does it?) when we compare twentieth-century craft with contemporary practices?
Craft and making are powerful, political acts that can – and have – changed the way we see the world around us, build communities, and empower marginalised voices. In the current climate, craft’s radical histories can offer hope and inspire collective action. To mark five years of Decorating Dissidence, we’re putting together a printed pamphlet of responses to radical acts of craft and making (from the early twentieth century to the present day), which explore craft’s past and looks to its future.
We’re looking for micro-essays, manifestos, photographs and visual art, craft objects, practice-based essay, creative writing, and other experimental forms that interrogate the multiple meanings of craft/making.
Please send submissions and questions to email@example.com with the subject line ‘Decorating Dissidence Pamphlet Submission’.
Deadline for first draft submissions – 10th April 2023
A note on payment: At the moment, we are not in a position to pay contributors as this is an unfunded project. Decorating Dissidence will self-publish the pamphlet and sell it for a small fee to cover costs. However we will be exploring avenues for funding over the next few months and if the situation changes we will ensure contributors are paid a fee.