Boredom is Always Counter Revolutionary

Cross stitch tapestry, gouache and computer generated patterns 2013-16

Cross stitch tapestry, 50 x 60 cm

gouache and computer generated patterns

A needlework tapestry made between Christmas 2012 and Easter 2015 consists of approximately 22,000 cross-stitches, spelling out 'Boredom is Always Counter-Revolutionary'. The phrase, Boredom is Always Counter-Revolutionary, comes from a text by Guy Debord published in the Situationist International Journal in 1962. This later became a popular graffiti during the May 1968 events in Paris. This phrase is the starting point for a series of tapestry designs in gouache, which develop numerous variations on the original design.

These designs are scanned and with a propriety computer programme 'Mac Stitch' which allows them to be made into patterns for making tapestries. The programme is designed for hobbyists rather than commercial producers, and the programme stitching generates patterns that provide information about stitch density, the reference numbers of the commercially branded treads required for the design and the amount of thread required.

As part of the extended project, community embroiders and stitchers are to be invited to take part in the project. They will be asked to make their own works in stitching or embroidery using this text. These works might be done through using one of the existing patterns as the basis or by the participants generating a brand new designs involving the text.

Boredom is Always Counter-Revolutionary looks at ways that ideas of work, labour and craft have been imagined from the 19th century to the present day, and how people now use manual activities and the techniques of craft to make objects that have a value and worth outside simple ideas of production.

A starting point for the cross-stitch works are the samplers that were made by children and adults in pre-industrial and industrial Europe. The Victoria and Albert Museum has examples from the 14th century onwards. Their function changed over time, from a training tool and pattern resource for artisans, to decorative pictures, to formulaic schoolroom exercises. shifting from being a professional resource and means of productions to an amateur and domestic or hobbyist past-time.

As industrialisation and technology became dominant, these craft skills took on another loading and value, invested with qualities that machine and factory production did not allow: such as care, reward and personal pleasure.

It is proposed that the project takes place in Walthamstow as the area was the home of William Morris, whose work did much to shape our ideas of craft today and owing to the strong local networks of local of artesinal and community crafts and related activities.

The central question for Guy Debord was how might people find meaning and significance in the modern world, a world that alienated people not only from their work but from our experience of life. He considered play and spontaneity as the cornerstones necessary for a fulfilling life. Boredom to them was a modern phenomenon, a modern form of control. people felt their condition not exactly as a fact but simply as a fatalism, devoid of meaning, which separated every man and woman from each other.

The computer is now central to lived experience in the West. It is determining ways that people relate to each other and experience the world. In this it is amplifying the processes of distance and isolation. At the same time it allows people to use technologies and processing power to enlarges the possibilities and potentials of their leisure, their recreation and their work.

contact Matt's Gallery London for touring/exhibiting inquiries.