Performance Crafting: The Political Act of Weaving


Tanya Weaving.

From age 4 to age 18, good friend Tanya Aguiniga crossed the US/Mexico border on a daily basis to go to school. She lived in Tijuana, and studied in San Diego. Now, as a maker of objects, and as a border transplant, She often travels to other countries and regions to study local craft traditions. Crossing borders again, she enveloped herself in a region's history, learning their specialized techniques and often incorporating the translation of that material or technique into her own work. She does this as a way to speak to the history of the region and current cultural issues while simultaneously bringing craft to the forefront of artistic expression.


But crafting is often a solitary act. She spends hours in her studio, creating objects that will end up on someone's wrist or in their living room. But what if crafting was public? What if crafting could become a political act or inspire a moment of the uncanny? Crafting is seen as separate from art, but Tanya wants to change that. For this Artbound series, she plans to explore the notion of performance crafting. She believes in using preconceived notions of objects and materials as design elements to create a platform for discussing greater cultural issues and form meaningful relationships across regions and cultures. These "performance crafting" events bring the intimate and solitary activities of my work into the public, activating spaces and encouraging contemplation of people's interaction with the natural and urban environments. For the next few months I will be staging performance craft events and chronicling the process in text and images here on Artbound.
For her first performance crafting piece, she will be exploring a technique called backstrap weaving. Tanya learned the craft of hand-making textiles from women artisans around the world, from India and Mongolia to Chiapas, Mexico. In Chiapas, she discovered a technique that inspired her. When creating fabric, the women of Chiapas strap themselves into a harness that attaches the woman to a wall or heavy object, which acts as a counterbalance for the physically demanding actions of weaving. This ancient technique, backstrap weaving, uses the body of the woman as a mechanism within the textile process. The body moves with the rhythms of weaving, creating textiles with motion. 




For this project, Tanya plans to stage plein air weaving sessions that physically connect her body, in the same manner as the women weavers of Chiapas, to various Southern California landscapes/objects.
On one hand, this action will be a moment of the absurd, infusing herself into public spaces while performing a seemingly strange and incongruous act. How will people in Beverly Hills react to a modern woman performing this traditional indiginous technique? How does that dialogue change when she works in East L.A. or at the Griffith Park Observatory? And how will she react to these people?
On the other hand, this action will create a literal umbilical that literally ties her to the landscape. The act of tying oneself to an object is also imbued with the spirit of protest, as generations of activists have chained themselves to buildings, trees, and other places that needed attention.
Tana will perform this piece in June, and in July will report back with her first exploration into this new medium that proves that crafting is not the lesser sibling of fine art; crafting is art.