Occasional Labor

six essays
on the impermanent disposition of art, life and textile

by Valerie Constantino


Occasional Labor, 1991
16mm film still
(link to video here)


           In 1991, in response to an art history assignment, I wrote an essay entitled Domestic Gestures in consideration of the ephemeral nature of domestic activities, identifying those processes as an integrated art form. It was the first expression of my inclination towards an interdisciplinary study of domestic culture and more broadly, materiality in relation to impermanence. 
            Subsequently, I wrote two essays, each a reflection of specific aspects of these ideas. The first one entitled Threadlore (Surface Design Journal, Fall, 1994) considered mythological and cosmological allusions to textile processes such as spinning and weaving in relation to fundamental structures of matter and the thing(s) of which all is made. The next: Textile: An Event in Time (Fiberarts, Sept / Oct, 1995), examined the works of several textile artists whose work underscores process as a discrete creative element. 
            During this period, I made a short 16mm film that developed into an installation entitled Occasional Labor (link to video here), described briefly in the essay of the same title. That installation along with the initial writings led to these expanded incarnations, presented here under the same canopy: Occasional Labor.  
            I'm in pursuit of the connections between my experience of textile and subjects that penetrate the fugitive qualities of being.  Some of the subjects that have come up along the way include, but are not limited to: traditional mythologies, multi-cultural philosophies, metaphysics, modern science, particularly recent development in physics, and time-based and mutable art forms including collage, installation, video and performance. In addition to the writing, each exploration includes citations and images from a wide selection of sources. 
           The scope of these collected documents has seemed a bit far-reaching, and throughout the project's development I have often considered it a vast, immeasurable tapestry. My understanding of these subjects continues to evolve in relation to world events and personal states of affair. All the while, textile offers an apt and fertile metaphor for the tangled relationships between materiality, global economies, environmental degradation and the indeterminacies of everyday life. Each individual composition* is linked here below.



*Several of these compositions share titles with visual art works that also appear on this
website. Ideas in common with visual work are sometimes expressed in these writings, yet these
are not presented as descriptive statements relative to specific visual works.

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