Yarn profiles four artists who use textile art to express whimsy, eccentricity, joy and struggle. A narrative from author Barbara Kingsolver on the essence of the material frames the film.
An Icelandist artist makes beautiful, feminine and sometimes political statements by adding yarn art to the environment. Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam, a Japanese artist, was embraced by the art establishment many decades ago when she made abstract textile installations. But when she pivoted to make objects for people, using textiles to build interactive environments for children and play, she was consigned to being a draughtsperson. Now she is back in museums, defying categorization. A Danish circus company designs a new production which is based on strings and threads - sometimes tangled, sometimes simple and linear. And Olek, a wild Polish ex-pat, crochets entire trains, create a yarn mermaid and generally rejects the mainstream. Their offerings are visually arresting and conceptually rich.
Director Una Lorenzen doesn't really address much of the wider context. I would have been curious to see her engage with the general phenomenon of yarn bombing or hear what Tinna Thórudóttir Thórvaldsdottir (the closest thing the film has to a bomber) thinks about it. Nor does Lorenzen really deal with the huge resurgence of interest in knitting and yarn and the reasons for it. And I was a bit put off by Thórvaldsdottir 's slightly simplistic analysis of yarn and textile art as women's art and how that made it somehow softer and more beautiful.The closest engagement with this is embedded in the message of a gorgeous installation Olek sets up n Berline. It is a huge and complex piece which also contains a slogan: Keep Calm & Eat my Cock. It got the biggest laugh in the film.
The film also suffered from some bad subtitling. Most subjects speak English but with some accent, and subtitling their speech is slightly patronizing, as is changing what they've said into more conventional grammar. Despite the flaws in the film, it is still possible for anyone who likes the textile arts to find elements that inspire and capture the imagination.
5th October 2016 12:30 p.m. at Vancity Theatre