A Note From the Curator of 'Playing False': Jenny McFarlane

I first approached Sharon Boggon about an exhibition I was working on for Craft ACT called Playing False. Playing false is a conundrum which I have been worrying at for some time. What does it mean to play false? It was only after meeting and talking with Sharon about her work that I realised just how closely her practice intersected with my riddle. While each of the artists in this exhibition have enlarged the parameters of the debate, for me this site represents a particularly important reference.

Through my discussions with Sharon, I was fascinated to learn about the long-standing relationship between computers and textiles. This connection dates back to Charles Babbage's use of the Jacquard Loom's sequencing cards which finally made the operation of the first computer practicable. How have the two media grown so far apart while sharing so much vocabulary; web, net, sampling, and so on, as well as the language of home and homeliness in terms like home-page?

To reintroduce textiles to the Net is an apparent aberration, like introducing something nominally female and handmade to the 'male domain' of high technology. Yet both the history and language of the Net denies such an artificial dualism.

Boggon's work plays with this false paradigm. In this exhibition she draws on the home-pages of a group of women. With their permission, she has constructed samplers, built up textures and embroidered where appropriate. The result is a gentle yet insistent blush of texture and colour with barely perceptible shifts from photo-shopped virtual stitches to coloured thread. Visually seductive, her work alludes quietly to the question of representation and appearances. This is not a riddle which will be solved in the near future, but for me, and I suspect for many others this work provides a focus on an issue which must inform much of what we do and who we are.

Jenny McFarlane

Curator, Playing False

August 1997.

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button to the catalogue essay written in association with this exhibition