Friday 7 October 2016

YARN review

As shown from the opening title card, director Una Lorenzen's Yarn wants to draw parallels between the noun (continuous strand of twisted threads) and the verb (a long, often elaborate narrative). To do that it follows a number of artists with differing approaches to their use of the medium of wool, with vastly differing ideologies and outcomes.

If you were hoping for a history of knitting and crocheting, this film is not it, more an exploration of how the metaphorical and literal capabilities of woollen thread has been been adopted by the art community and used for a multitude of artistic sensibilities. The large sculptural pieces that blend the functionality of the thread with an inherent playground potential created by Japanese artist Toshi are incredible, and it's interesting to hear how the art community's stance on her work changed once children decided to enjoy her work in a more tangible way.

Also featured prominently is Tinna, the Icelandic graffiti artist who specialises in adorning grey lampposts around cities with her colourful political statements. She is most vocal about what changes she would like to see in the world, and what her philosophies are about how her work can help. Olek the crocheter is also a major figure in this sub-sub-genre, and has a number of impressive pieces featured that find a clash between mother nature and this creative method.

Oddly fascinating if not a reel too long, it's an entertaining globe-trotting adventure that proves interesting to see how the public react to these artworks, from huge crocheted canvasses telling us to "keep calm and eat my cock" to people walking around cities knitted into full body suits. There's a number of scenes that show the interaction of the general public with these works, although this doc chooses to capture what's going on rather than attempt to interview anyone in conventional documentary fashion. It would be interesting to hear their responses, but director Una Lorenzen has chosen to position her camera alongside the artists and their co-conspirators during these collisions of worlds.

Witnessing a crocheted mermaid swimming under the sea of Hawaii is undeniably beautiful, but despite the efforts of the artists to bring their work to the world, it's fair to say that this is a niche interest film. It's a shame that the feminist thread wasn't pulled a bit harder to uncover why there is such a gender disparity within the artists who use this medium, but Yarn is not short of charm and creativity, and might just be the most colourful film I've ever seen.


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