Textiles, I have found, are material and metaphoric, physical and psychological, temporal and geographic links between weighty histories of social change and our lives as experienced in our homes and on our bodies. As structures, systems of knowledge, and an intimate aspect of everyday life, they are inherently social. In my art practice, and in the writing that follows, I fuse text and textiles into a language to address the relationship between personal and political that moves beyond the adage “the personal is political,” to an understanding of politics as embodied.
An Encyclopedia of Embodied Politics consists of a number of short essays that move between poetic and scholarly. The encyclopedia form suggests my need for a new kind of reference, one that is revealing in its subjectivity, rather than in claiming to be a reference for objective truth. I choose this form also out of my desire for an art practice—and a reference—that is more relational than representational, meaning that rather than claiming to speak for others, I would prefer to understand my relationship to others. Whether this distinction can ever be fully realized is, of course, an open question. Like other encyclopedias, this document is always incomplete: the list of entries is ever growing, and the entries may be expanded over time. The entry headings are as broad as one’s potential imagining of home or the color yellow. So rather than claiming that the text can be complete, my intention is to provide an entry point into the multitude of material biographies and interpretations a reader will conjure. What is written are my own biographies and interpretations, or at least the few that will fit in such a short document.