crochetlab issue 3

artist bea camacho responded to a few questions!
I saw her work in june '05 at harvard's sert gallery,
bea camacho: "enclose" , 2004 video still
and was intrigued by it.

crochetlab report




all material
© linda scharf
linda at
crochetlab dot com

all photos on this
page courtesy
of bea ccamacho



















































































all material
© linda scharf

linda at crochetlab
dot com



you can click on a question and be directed to bea's response (in black type) or scroll for a more intimate experience. slow is good...

august 1, 2005

:: learning crochet
:: crochet as a medium

:: photos/physical objects
:: creating “enclose”
:: planning “enclose”
:: viewing
:: feeling
:: structure
:: red yarn
:: “extreme clothing”
:: future

was crochet something you learned growing up or is it a recently acquired
skill? in either case, what was the impetus to learn (the skill)? do you
knit as well, and if so, how do you choose which one to use?

I learnt how to crochet during my junior year of college. I was working on 'Untitled (Sound Objects)' and I decided that I wanted them to be covered with fabric that I had made, so I taught myself how to crochet using instructions I found on the internet. I liked the fact that crocheting allowed me to easily manipulate the shape that the fabric was taking. I have never used patterns in my work because I prefer to improvise my forms. I have also used knitting in my work. Last year, I created an interactive fabric by knitting together mohair and electroluminescent wire. Whether I crochet or knit usually depends on the physical requirements of the project. For example, I knit the interactive fabric because I found that it was easier to knit wire than crochet it and I crocheted my 'Enclose' piece because I needed to complete it as quickly as possible.

you use crochet to "address issues of isolation/loneliness" in your art.
if this idea is accurate, what, if any, is the connection between the two?

My work deals with experiences of isolation created by physical, mental or emotional separation. A lot of this is deeply connected with my personal experience of having moved away from home at the age of eleven and grown up apart from my family. Along with themes of separation and isolation, I want the work to address ideas of home and belonging. To me, crochet is associated with home, warmth and security. However, this notion formed quite outside my own experience. I did not grow up with mothers or grandmothers who crocheted or knitted. For me, the crocheting refers to a somewhat idealized version of home. I hope that in my work it speaks to ideas of comfort and discomfort, familiarity and alienation. I was also drawn to crocheting because of its repetitive and meditative nature. I think there is often an obsessive quality to my work.

in many of your works, we see the record of the crocheted objects (photos,
video), not the actual items. why? an exception is the sound sculptures. why have you included the actual objects in that case? do you want people to pick them up? i ask because so often we're asked not to touch things in galleries.

bea camacho sound sculptures

     Above: Untitled (Sound Objects), 2003
     Yarn, stuffing, recordable playback modules

The sound objects are from an earlier body of work that deals with issues slightly different from those of 'Enclose' or 'Extensions.' The sound objects were designed to be interactive and to allow a physical closeness while suggesting a sense of alienation using the sounds. Since the physical context within which a piece is displayed affects our relationship to the piece, in the past I have displayed the sound objects on sofas and in custom-made environments that promote the idea that they are meant to be played with.

'Extensions' and 'Enclose' address different ideas. The decision not to show the actual crocheted objects was made because of the importance of separation and distance. Although emotions are physically manifested in this work, I felt a need to maintain a sense of privacy. Crocheted extensions embody the impulse to create connections with others but they have been packed into a box and are presented using only photographs. There is a strong sense of withdrawal, especially in 'Enclose' where it is emphasized by placing the video monitor on the floor in the corner of a room. I wanted to preserve a physical and psychological divide between the viewer and the work by limiting the viewer's access to the pieces.

i'd like to know your thoughts about "enclose": what was the spark to create it?
bea camacho: "enclose"
          above: Enclose, 2004
          Video still
live online

When I started working on this piece, I was interested in hiding spaces and creating my own environment. I had never done performance before, so I was a little nervous about this project.

how much planning was involved? where did this take place? were there observers besides you and the video crew? did you set out to crochet the form around you, no matter how long it took, or something else?

Most of the planning consisted of finding the appropriate yarn and figuring out a way to set up the video equipment in a way that would allow us to continuously capture the entire performance. For the video, I had the help of Greg Gagnon and my brother, Enzo Camacho. We set up at 4:00am, started shooting at around 6:00am and continued until the performance ended at around 5:00pm. The performance took place on the floor in the corner of my studio and my audience consisted only of the video crew and the other students who were working in the studio. For the most part, there were only one or two other people in the studio with me. I wanted to crochet myself in entirely but I had no idea how long it would take or how much yarn I would need. I wasn't even sure if I would physically be able to do it since I did not want the performance to be interrupted by any breaks. I crocheted continuously for more than ten hours without food or water and was incredibly relieved when I had finished.

this is a record of your crocheting a cocoon-like structure around you as
you sit on the floor. it is a bit over 10 hours in length. i know it
starts showing in the gallery at 9am, and can be seen in it's entirety.
how do you expect/hope that people will view it? (over time, one extended
viewing, fast-forward :), see only parts and have to live with the mystery
of not knowing the rest of the story, something else?) was the video edited, or is it a real time record of the process?

The video was recorded using two tape decks so that we could put the footage together seamlessly. The material from fourteen separate tapes was edited in order to create a continuous and complete document of the performance. I decided to present the video in its entirety and in real-time to emphasize the process and duration. This solitary activity is performed repetitively in a way that is reminiscent of ritual and it happens consciously over time, allowing an emotional investment in the project to be formed. I don't expect people to spend hours viewing the video but I want them to get the sense that this was an extended performance. I hope that the title and the activity in the video suggest what is going on even with a short viewing of the piece.

can you say a bit about your feelings as you started to become more enclosed? were you surprised by what you experienced?

I went into this performance not knowing what it would feel like or what I would be thinking about. For the first hour or so, all I could think about was how thirsty I was because I didn't drink anything before I started so that I wouldn't need to go to the bathroom. After that, I forgot all about having to eat, drink or go to the bathroom and I was very focused on what I was doing. I hadn't predetermined how the shape of the crocheted cover was going to come together so I was improvising the form and constantly trying to figure out which parts needed to join up in order to have it close around me with the least amount of excess. The hardest part was the last hour because I was curled up with my head slightly tucked and was crocheting in a very awkward position. It was quite painful and I was quite desperate to be done with it. When it was over, I was so relieved and exhausted that I fell asleep inside the crocheted cocoon for a few minutes. It was really warm and cosy, and I actually loved being inside it.

does the structure still exist? any plans for it?

It does still exist and it is in storage at home. I don't have any plans for it yet.

you use red yarn for a number of your pieces. any particular reasons for
the choice?

I love the graphic quality of the color. I find it very striking and in 'Enclose,' I was also originally attracted to the way in which it became reminiscent of the womb.

anything you'd like to mention about any of your "extreme clothing" pieces? (hat-like and glove-like structures.)

bea camacho: extensionsbea camacho: extensions

         Above: Extensions, 2005
         Photographs, 30" x 20" and 24" x 36"
         Photo credit: Karl Hinojosa

I've never crocheted anything that wasn't an art project. I have created 'clothing,' but so far I haven't really considered myself to be involved with fashion. I think of crochet as just another art medium, like wood or plaster.

do you plan to continue using crochet in your future explorations?

Right now, I'm not sure. I certainly enjoy crocheting but I don't want to limit myself to this way of working. My work will probably change a lot in the future and I don't know if crocheting will continue to be relevant to the ideas I want to explore.


Bea Camacho recently graduated summa cum laude with a degree in the
Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard College. She works with
sculpture, performance and installation in order to explore issues
concerning distance and disconnection in relation to absence and
intimacy. Having graduated, she hopes to continue working in the field
of art and design.


top of page living thru experimental crochet
art and research about what happens to string when it is
hooked up to a stick, turned loose and encouraged to run wild


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