You Suggest the Struggle Goes Both Ways [I’m Whipped]

Melis Agabigum

Kalamazoo, MI, USA


In its most extreme form, “Oya” or laced-crochet in Turkish-ottoman culture was used as a form of women’s handcraft to offer social and/or political comments on taboo subjects. Drawing from my culture’s history, I translate textile techniques to metal as a mode of “feminist craftivism” to respond to abuse and gaslighting as a form of oppression through psychological entrapment. The forms of each object are inspired by the ouroboros and historic fishing nets/traps, where the forms fall into an infinite state of renewal through the repetition of each new layer of crochet becoming more deformed from the weight of the material. Ambiguous, skeletal-like vessels develop from the subconscious motions that my hands enact in the process of crocheting. It becomes my way of working through my burdens; a therapeutic escape through repetition. Dramatic lighting is used to cast crisp, elongated shadows to enforce the idea that burden can also be a remnant of an unforeseen force or entity.

Provoked by an interest in material fiction, Melis’ work examines the unseen tether of the physical and emotional weights that affect individuals in how they perceive their connection to others, their bodies, and space. She is currently an Assistant Professor and Area Coordinator of Metals/Jewelry at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI.

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