Fabian Saptouw’s work ‘Unravelled and Rewoven Canvas’ (2006) is a work that I find incredibly interesting, as the way in which Saptouw creates his work through a process of continual labour, effort and documentation is something I am interested in pushing further in my own work involving labour and time intensive processes.
Saptouw’s work involved him unravelling and reweaving an originally machine made canvas using traditional methods of weaving. Saptouw spent a year working on the project, documenting all his processes and techniques through various forms of media, in order to show the labour-intensive nature of the project, which ended up naturally futile, as he tried to use traditional techniques to perfectly recreate a man-made object.
Saptouw completed all parts of the process himself, even manufacturing all of the hardware required to weave the canvas. His process of unravelling and reweaving involved a rigid methodical process of numbering each of the strands in order to ensure maximum effectiveness for the process. Even though his project consists of resurrecting a form of craft which is fastly fading from the general public domain, his methodical approach to completing the project within a set of pre-determined parameters and rules with strict forms of documentation produces a sense of almost machine-like labour, labour of which results in a product that was created, destroyed and recreated. Saptouw documented the process in a multitude of forms, including installing a CCTV camera in the studio to document the undertaking of the project on video, as well as recording data involving the time taken to complete certain aspects of the unravelling and reweaving process, then using this raw data to create graphs to display trends within these observations of the process.
I am very interested in the process-based practice that Saptouw has created for himself, whereby the laboured process of completing an arguably futile task becomes the nature of the work. I am interested in the way he has recorded his efforts through many different techniques, such as filming himself completing the work and logging forms of time. The parameters set to complete the process, and the strict set of rules when undergoing such become the art, and therefore the actions completed become the nuances, the expression of the work, as a human, with limits and needs, undergoes a rigid task. I am interested in pushing the form of my own work, experimenting with documentation and investigation further in the style of Saptouw, as he creates a process which is labour intensive and labourious, but also inherently romantic in its intentions.