Thougths based on the work Seven months, two weeks and two days
After working on this creation for seven months, two weeks and two days, it’s time to write about the process.
Strictly speaking I began to work on it as a child. In my childhood I played with ants. I observed them in their daily chores and I was enormously fascinated by their homes. I spent hours studying how they got in and out of the hole that enter the earth without me being able to see the different cavities that composed its home, although I imagined where the kitchen would be, where the living room and where the different rooms would be.
In my games there was, on one hand a component of evil mixed with another one of help. Sometimes I obstructed the orifice preventing them from entering and exiting and watching how the panic took hold of them. When the discomfort flooded my being, I unblocked the entrance and observed how slowly they calmed down. It was then when my help came under the form of small crumbs of bread that I sprinkled near the orifice of entrance.
I felt like a kind of superior being. The existence of the little ants depended on my will, as if I were the Catholic and powerful God that made me fear so much in school. As time went by, I realized that I wasn´t just playing with the ants but instead, I entertained myself imagining that I was God. Surely, it was the power of will that attracted me because in my childhood that was the only area of my life in which I could exercise that power.
My attraction to anthills didn’t diminish over time. It remained dormant. Never I stopped observing them and the fascination for the methodical and tireless work of the ants was always a part of me. The fact that such tiny beings can extract important quantities of pebble from the inside and the comparison with the size of the stones they carried, made me think about my own work: careful, systematic, tidy, orderly and repetitive
In October 2016 I took the first photo of an anthill in the municipal area of Isona i Conca Dellà, more specifically in the vicinity of Covet. I thought that after so many years of interest in them, the time had come to give them a new lease on life in the possible embroideries that I would do in the future. That photo was saved, like so many others, waiting for a moment I wasn’t sure it would come.
When I considered the possibility of presenting myself at the VIII International Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art and seeing that the concept of the convening theme was “Sustainable city, the textile art an integrative fabric”, to be honest, I didn’t come up with any image that could motivate me immediately and so I started taking pictures of the tram that goes underneath my house and the urban garden I have on the balcony. Almost instantaneously I realized that none of those images were endowed with enough magic that for me is the essential part of a project and justifies me working on it.
It was then when I thought it would be odd that among the 11,940 photographs that I have, of which not all, but some are still waiting to be embroidered, I wouldn´t find any appropriate to vindicate this moment. Looking through them, I found the anthill of October 2016.
That’s all it took. When I saw it, I knew that I would finally embroider an anthill. At that time, I already had some knowledge about the ecological sustainability of the anthills, but I thought it would be necessary to begin a task before starting with the embroidery and that would consist of scientific documentation on such sustainability. This led me to consult the following web pages and extract from them some annotations that justify the choice of the image in relation to the convening theme:
“…and these social insects seem to have a lot to teach us. Without going any further, last week German physicist Dirk Helbing showed that the endless traffic jams could be a thing of the past if we applied the techniques used by the ants, they are able to move massively from one side to the other without congestion or traffic jams”
“It is clear to me that nature has the answer to many of the challenges that we face in the management’s future of the cities of the world, which we are changing at an accelerated pace…”
“…Here is where Nature through something I have already spoken on some occasion (the Biomimetics”) can help us solve this problem by attacking the distribution of the inefficient food in our cities…”
“…During the day, worker ants move the larvae to the rooms closer to the upper part of the anthill, so they get more heat. At night, they are moved back again to the lower chambers. The design of the anthills varies depending on the different species of ant…”
“…The optimization of the management of the transportation of food inside the colonies of ants can inspire us to optimize the transport of food in the cities, adapting the solution to each local reality as they are done in the anthills…”
“…There is already a company called Farm Fare that is reinventing the chain of local food supply including family farms, decentralized distribution centers and sustainability-oriented buyers working as an anthill…”
“…Nature-inspired technology, better known as biomimicry, it has been revolutionizing our day-to-day life since the days of Leonardo Da Vinci. What tricks could animals offer to us to make new advances possible?”
-” …This is a building that regulates its temperature by imitating a termite mound; fans that improve their efficiency by imitating the logarithmic spirals of nature…”
– “…Biomimetic architecture: a building that thermoregulates itself like a termite tree.
Is it possible to build a public building that keeps its interior at a constant temperature and refrigerated all year round, without resorting to artificial refrigeration, with the energy and environmental costs that this entails?
The Eastgate Centre in Harare, a medium sized office complex, has achieved this imitating the design of the huge termite mounds built by the African termite species macrotermes michaelseni, a characteristic chimney-shaped burial mound that can measure several meters in diameter and height…”
Subsequent to this process of documentation on the internet, I started a fieldwork whose purpose was to find and photograph the definitive anthill. This happened on June 2nd, 2018, also in a place close to Covet. Between this date and the 6th of June, I prepared all the material: printing and arrangement of the working maps and location of the central and first point in them, selection of the 75 colors and subsequent coding based on the symbols of the working maps, purchase of the fabric and placement of it in the center.
Once all this process was done, I began to embroider for 7 months, two weeks and two days. Technically and visibly the result is a work that measures 39 cm long by 59 cm wide, with a total of 70,850 stitches, embroidered on Panama type fabric and with 75 DMC colors.
Up to here I have exposed the technical considerations of the work, those that are visible to the viewer. But there is a hidden dimension that only I know, as the author of the work. It is the temporal extension of the work, in which time passes to form part of it. For 577 hours and 15 minutes I have been in front of it, I have spoken to it, I have walked through its work maps and those walks has led me to the creation of an image that’s the image I’m showing. In the process of wandering through my work, there have been moments of any kind, moments of reflection, of joy, of sadness, of rage, of doubt, of distraction…and these moments are also part of the work. Without these moments it would not exist, there would be no image to show.
This reflection has led me to consider that in my work the image that I show is not the most important thing. It almost doesn’t matter. What it´s really important is the time I’ve dedicated to create it. I could make thousands and thousands of identical crosses. Time is what matters. What is truly valuable is how I pass through the work and the time I dedicate to it. That’s why it’s so important to have work maps. Without them I can’t get anywhere mental nor physical. The physical place is the image. The mental place is personal.
It is also important to emphasize the significance of the importance of the reverse of the work. As always, I photograph both faces of the same one. Obverse and reverse. My works are characterized by order, repetition, the systematic. These features are clearly visible on the front. The obverse is what I show in the first place, the socially acceptable and understandable. On the contrary, the reverse would connect more with chaos, disorder, the unacceptable, the unordered and it’s what I show secondly and yet, it is as important as its opposite. It is simply the duality with which I live on a daily basis and which I would be closely linked to the temporal and mental dimension of my work.
I would not like to end this exposition without mentioning the subject of waste. Seven months, two weeks and two days, was the first work in which I consciously, although not from the very beginning, I’ve been jealously keeping the waste I generated.
Basically, it’s about leftover strands, pencil scrap when you sharpen them, and labels of the threads I’ve used. These leftovers of the work will be in a box saved and labeled with the title of it. They are part of the creative process. They exist because the work exists and the work exists because they exist, therefore they are also necessary to understand the work and besides, they close its constructive cycle.