Arachne’s Thread

In the story of Arachne and Athena, Athena is the norm, the establishment, a code for propriety and order – her textile depicts the Parthenon. Whilst Arachne’s weaving depicts the misdeeds and weaknesses of the gods, viewed from this perspective Arachne’s work seems indecent and vulgar. There is even symbolism in the motifs they sew – Athena with her ‘trim-leaved olive of peace’ and Arachne with her imagery of ivy which runs about in ‘wild abandon’.

This cine film is stitched with black thread by hand and by machine. It captures some events in an anonymous young American woman’s life. This interspersed with shots of sewing into the film, casting myself in the role of Arachne.

The disruptive and excessive sewing is a contrast to conventional needlework that values tiny, neat stitching. The massive scale of the pattern is a contrast to the neatly sewn prom dress, with it’s carefully co-ordinated colours and neatly tied bow. The piece plays with the notion of scale, the huge sewing on the cine film, the disobedient thread appears inflict itself with machine-gun rhythm and runs with abandon across the ordered feminine actions. Arachne’s misrule in Athena’s order.