Knitling at Compton Verney Gallery UK

In Memory Of My Mother
On this old photograph I’m in the center, puny and week,
surrounded by my relations, all of them bursting with life,
merriment and happiness. This is the wedding of my cousin
Boris in 1959 in the town of Polevskoye in the Sverdlovsk region.
Many of those from that photograph are no longer with us. Their
clothes were distributed among the relatives. When clothes
become threadbare they are torn into strips and used for knitting
rugs. Each such rug in the Urals houses preserves the memory
of deceased people as if it were a laser disk bearing recordings of
their voices and faces.
When my mother was 85 I asked her to make a knitted
suit for me out of the clothes that used to belong to our relatives.
When you put it on it preserves you, it hugs and embraces you,
like my relatives did in that old photograph. I called that suit
“Knitling” from the Russian word for a “knitted garment”.
Now it is a new being created by the two main
components of my art: the phenomena of time and place.
Knitling keeps the warmth of my native village as it
embodies the memory of it. The threadbare coverlets of my family
are torn into strips and are wound into numerous balls bringing
to mind the ball of threads leading the heroes of the Russian fairy
The Urals folk craft of rug knitting was thus turned into a
magic ritual conjuring up the spirits of our ancestors, connecting
the souls into a spiral of eternity, a solar sign, and a cocoon of
memory; and so we obtain a new mythical being: a knitted
creature who joined the series of ancient surrealist types, such
as the house-spirit and the bathhouse spirit. Putting on such a
Knitling you wear a piece of clothes from several generations at
once becoming a nameless and faceless being, and so you attain
Leonid Tishkov, 2002

Stills from video "Knitling", 2002, 6 min