Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Impractical Labor

Denim paper production is underway for an installation in a few weeks in Baltimore as part of the Axis Alley project. It's been a few months since Book Bombs has engaged in the pulpy side of production, and I was oh-so-ready to get my hands wet. While I got the vat set up, I was thinking of the absurd elements of the task we are undertaking: cutting up old jeans, pulling sheets of handmade paper, cutting this paper down by hand into the shapes of endangered native plant species, and wheat pasting all of this to the back of a building that will ultimately be demolished in a few months. The absurdity is heightened by the use of tools that were not designed for me: clumsily cutting rags using Michelle's large right-handed shears with my small left hand since I'd forgotten my own scissors, leaning into a too-tall vat to form sheets large enough to test the production limits of my five-foot frame. The labor is ultimately satisfying, but I couldn't help but think about the time in one's life of newly learning fine motor skills and constantly climbing up into kitchen chairs designed for humans twice one's size.

Look for more updates on the Axis Alley project soon, but this seems an appropriate time to share a link to Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts (ILSSA). ILSSA, instigated by our friends-in-labor Bridget Elmer and Emily Larned, serves as a point of solidarity for those of us who engage in obsolete technologies as a labor of love and perhaps compulsion.
ILSSA operates a listserv for communications amongst members. Union members also receive printed matter on a periodic basis from the ILSSA Research Institute (pictured above!). Their motto: "as long as it takes!" That sounds about right. Thanks for the solidarity, folks! Sometimes it really helps us get through the task at hand....

[posted by Local 215 Shop MT]

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