I’ve been wanting to post this manifesto for weeks. The riff off David Salle’s "The Paintings Are Dead" is implicit and hilarious. And the paintings are some of the best of the year. Nice work, Daniel.
2. In horror movies like Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive (1974) or John Carpenter’s answer to Ronald Reagan’s death culture, They Live (1988), it is much more thrilling when things are alive that shouldn’t be.
3. These paintings are meant to convey unstable, collapsing spaces whose highly charged and perilous depths beg for empathy, even if they are images one might want to think twice before entering.
4. My intention is that the paintings are totally unapologetic, and, yet, their outcome is undeniably fragile. Chance is a major factor. Each painting is really only an accumulation of possible events. It’s hard, for that reason, to take full credit for their final outcome. My only honest claim is to invent the set of circumstances that ultimately allows the painting to happen.
5. The paintings are vertical like figures. There is something very human about being able to put your arms around something very intense.
6. These paintings are reconceived in terms of the larger cultural spectacle without allegory, or any idea that looks backwards for its own relevance. I want them to be the symbolic language object come-to-life, the way it is impossible to ignore something that stirs in the ashes, not dead, but rising from the death of everything that has been poisoned and made extinct around it.
7. The idea of painting as an ahistorical symbol, standing outside of time and thus able to comment on painting as a whole, can only exist if history is not dead. You can’t have it both ways.
8. Today’s Neo-classical worshipers of objectivity can keep their eternal, loveless vigil over the history of abstraction for themselves. Beauty is not something deep-frozen and passive in a sacred vitrine, like the antagonist’s collection of virgin corpses in a horror movie. I want these paintings to demand one’s attention like an intelligent consciousness alien to one’s own.
9. Ugly painting is not more democratic and humanist than any other kind of painting. Any argument that makes its claim of being radical solely by way of taste can only do so by means of outdated social theories that willfully ignore the singularly enfranchised sensibility that mainly supports such art. These paintings are meant to be flawed perfectly like anything else one would want to grow to love.
10. I want my paintings to be dramatic. These paintings are made with the belief that deep down inside we must know that nothing but death stands still. The transcendental object love of the exterminating angel is over-rated. For me, it seems that any idea of drama in abstract painting would want to embrace the potential vertigo such painting offers.
11. I am drawn to extreme contrasts, often contradictory, like, for example, the polarity between innocence and brutality, discord and balance, insides hung out, the guttural and rational, or the sympathetic dissonance of super high- and low-registers in bands like the Melvins or Thrones.
12. These paintings are meant to challenge the basic psychoanalytical faults underlying our most trusted mythologies — as an affirmation of the idea that concepts always already contain their own opposite counter-meaning. In order to lend significance to their own point of view, the ideologue must love their enemy as much, if not more, than they love themselves, which is a self-hating principal. These paintings have no ideology.
13. I am interested in representing the collapsing and derelict sense of form that is particularly characteristic of the dilapidation of fixed structures and its correlation in the larger cultural debate — underscored by our ongoing national political crisis of conscience — around the fundamental dysfunction and fragility of the belief systems we most freely subscribe to.
Lay down that eyelash yarn and giant needles and pick up a project that’s thoughtful, elegant, and odd. Let each sweater be something completely new. Forego patterns in favor of making it up yourself.
Figure it out for yourself.
Do not by shy. The time is now; there will never be a better one. Use technology if you have to. Computers are your friends. Knitting machines are ungainly buy useful. Reclaim knitting! It is a noble craft; it is NOT the new yoga. Repetitive and unthinking motions will kill the soul. Knitting is creating. Custom sweaters are the new tattoos. Why make the same thing everyone else is making if you don’t have to? You have choices: make use of them.
THEN: Knitters who have come before us are remembered for cabled guernseys, paper thin stockings, mittens and gloves adorned with sonnets or sobriquets, and undergarments fluttering with lace. Our forebears learned to knit at a young age. Small children were started on stockings, knitting in the round. Adolescents turned heels and decreased at the toes.
Look back at the history of knitting and you will see tiny stitches, fancy flourishes, and complex shaping. Aesthetically speaking, the knitters of yore had it going on. Totally badass, persnickety, and adorable. And, as if incredibly good-looking and fashionable weren’t enough for these long ago knitters, old-time chicks with sticks transformed American culture, no joke. In the 1890’s, when a bicycle craze swept the nation, ladies were still wearing duds that might get stuck in the spokes, or worse. Knitting came to the rescue, providing the fashionable a new and sporty choice. Hemlines started to rise, and jaunty knitted stockings became all the rage. It wasn’t long before sweaters went from underwear to outerwear and the rest is history.
Thank our feminist ancestors with yarn and vision for getting us out of the corset and into the sweater. The early part of the 20th century plugged along just fine, and many a garment was stitched for soldiers, grandchildren, schoolmarms, bachelors, fishermen, and whores. Those who wanted to knit for the war effort used patters published by the Red Cross for sweaters, vests, gloves, and socks. Fashioning garments was a talent taken for granted. Knitters, it seemed, knew how to knit. And then what happened?
NOW: Like many other things, recent times saw the history of knitting take an unfortunate turn for the worse. Though the popularity of the craft has gone through the roof, we are now faced with an unprecedented epidemic of mediocrity characterized by ultra-bulky yarn and loosely knit skinny scarves. Yarn companies are laughing all the way to the bank as the introduce more yarns and patterns that will satisfy knitters with a “scarf in an hour” or a “sweater in a day.”
If the current crop of madness does not cease, we in the here and now will be remembered by future knitters at the generation who collapsed the craft. We cannot and must not let this happen! Knitting is not supposed to be easy. Knitting takes time and thought and patience and attention. A well made sweater will last a lifetime or longer. There’s no point in wasting time and money on ugliness.
Down with simple and boring!
Up with thoughtful and complex!
Chart your message and wear it proudly. Mix yarns and colors. Spice it up. Try the materials of today: Kevlar, retro-reflective, stainless steel, dynamite, yak. Resist fashion. Manufacture your own brand. Embrace tradition. Learn from history. Shatter the present. Create the future. Stitch by stitch, we can and will change the world. The revolution is at hand and knitting needles are the only weapons you’ll need. Stop making scarves; start making trouble.
Knitting is political.
[from KNITKNIT #6]