This workshop and gathering departs from the tradition of memorial handkerchiefs, a gift offered to convey your condolences for the loss of a loved one, intended to be carried inside a pocket as a way to keep the memory of this loved one close. Participants are invited to join us in an exercise in collective embroidery, as a way to think through and feel practices of remembrance and the (in)visibility of loss. The handkerchief we make together will be too heavy to be carried alone, too large to be hidden in a pocket, a hankie that holds the uncomfortable, absurd, beautiful, and nonsensical, as a gesture of collective, queer mourning.
Textile has historically been used to make grief tangible and visible – various traditions of grief clothing, conflict textiles, and the AIDS quilts are just some examples of this. Whilst memorial handkerchiefs have their roots in the tradition of Victorian grief clothing, they are intended to be carried with you privately to avoid the discomfort of onlookers who may not want to be confronted with your grief.
We can trace this shift from public to private back to the ways in which grief has been individualised, stigmatised and pathologised in the context of Northern European neoliberalism. An average job offers 2-3 days of paid leave to mourn a close loved one, with strict definitions of “close” and “loved one,” and expressing your sorrow publicly is reserved for scripted moments such as wakes, memorial services and funerals. Rituals of mourning often seem to serve more as a way of doing away with it, solving, fixing and archiving, rather than an open-ended space that can be filled with all the possibilities and complexities grief offers.
This workshop invites you to wear your loss on your sleeve and ask others to carry that sleeve with you when it becomes too heavy or uncomfortable to do it alone.
Free admission. Reservation required: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To participate at this event, a coronapass or QR-code is required.