Red Tape

The project Red Tape (Obstructive official routine or procedure; time consuming bureaucracy. Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003) critically explores the social and cultural environment of our times.

The objects carry a touch of irony and a quick glance at them is likely to be misleading. The installation consists of pretty „handicrafts“ which, while being meant to be attractive, signal frustration and oppression. I see such a form of artistic expression not just as a precondition for existence but, importantly, as a means of social action that has both artistic and social value. The artistic object is perceived as an integral part of social life and annihilates boundaries between aesthetic and mundane experiences.

The Red Tape installation explores the ways of thinking and perception how textile, traditionally perceived as a gentle symbol of sitting-room cosiness and femininity, turns into a weapon, into a means of social activism and protest. The objects highlight a dominant concern of our times: the ever-increasing regulation and bureaucracy that proliferate in trades, professions and institutional activities.

The installation has absorbed draft documents (rules, regulations and terms of reference) that me and my colleagues had drafted to satisfy the requirements of an international institutional accreditation. For many years, I have been closely involved in the implementation of the action lines of the Bologna Process in university-level education in Europe, particularly in Lithuania. This has shaped my critical views about excessive bureaucracy. To what extent the endless drafting and submission of plans and reports could be meaningful and relevant, if at all?

The Red Tape installation consists of five tapestries that absorbed hundreds of rules, regulations, terms of reference and draft instructions. In addition, they include the embroidery of the most important documents.  I used to spend working hours in the office to draft the documents and embroider the most important ones in the evenings (either manually or using a programmed embroidery machine). I have chosen the technique of embroidery on purpose: using the sharp end of the needle relates to piercing, pain and suffering.