DAI at Frieze Art 2004 for London's art radiostation ResonanceFM

ResonanceFM in London invited DAI-students to send proposals on sound art for a special broadcast on the occasion of Frieze Art. The DAI staff decided to send the students who came up with the best proposal as a kind of official DAI-delegation to London.

The proposal for the project ‘Open Air Sewing’ made by Tracey Prehay and Anne Schiffer was chosen.

tag: London

 Participants in the park received a sewing kit that included material and written instructions to make a distinguished pattern. But radio listeners could participate as well. They were provided with verbal instructions on how to hand sew, and how to make the required pattern. Eventually the listerners were encouraged to come to the park to compare what they had made without any visual aids.

Beside the project Open Air Sewing another project by DAI-students was broadcasted in the special ResonanceFM broadcast on the occasion of the Frieze Art Fair. This one was a radio show called Bob Recon / Music for Extreme Frequencies by Julian Scaff en Paul Segers.


Open Air Sewing
a project by Tracey Prehay & Anne Schiffer

Hu Xiu are traditional cotton sleeves worn by working class women and men in China to protect their arms and underclothing from kitchen stains, street dirt and factory grease. Remnants from pre Cultural Revolution China, the sleeves not only serve a practical function, but they also denote class.

Interested in the history of fashion and cultural exchange, Tracey Prehay and Anne Schiffer are conducting a sewing workshop on Hu Xiu as part of the public programming at Resonance 104.4fm. The workshop, a live radio event, will show participants how to create their own, one of a kind, Hu Xiu.

The intersection of theory and practice is key to the workshop, and participants will be encouraged to create semi high fashion items (all materials are provided) while adding to a complex discussion on cultural encounters, the market place and the notion of mimicry.

The clothing trade is a labour intensive sector that provides employment for many women in the developing world; the workshop will echo this craft legacy that continues to impact our post-industrial world, by imitating modes of production used to create Hu Xiu in contemporary China (the workshop is an open air sewing event). In this way, complexities surrounding class, popular culture and economics will be performed and discussed.

Women’s personal narratives are rooted in an oral tradition – historically, women would gather together in the evenings or early afternoons to share stories whilst darning socks, sewing trousers or knitting sweaters. This was a time for women to share their experiences with one another, while taking care of the practicalities of running a household. Through radio airwaves, the workshop will bring what has customarily been a private female ritual to the space of the public. Again the notion of mimicry and transformation, and public and private practices will add to a performance that should not be missed.

Text by Deepa Naik
Artist and writer living in London.

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Hu Xiu (arm cover) Sewing Pattern
Sewing kit includes:
Two pieces of fabric w/ pattern
Elastic thread
Sewing needle

You will also need a pair of scissors to cut the pattern and fabric.
o Layout the fabric with the pattern side up
o Cut the pattern along the solid lines
o Fold the upper seam line inwards.
o Pin the fabric in place and then sew together using backstitch.
o Repeat on the lower seam line.
o Place the elastic in place and adjust to your arm.
   * Make sure that elastic is sewn securely in place.
o You are now ready to sew the Hu Xiu together! Follow seam lines using the backstitch. To protect the edge of the fabric from fraying use a cross-stitch.

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The cross stitch will hold the patches securely in place. Begin by sewing a series of angled stitches across the edge of the patch. When you reach the end of the seam or the outline of the patch, reverse direction and sew back over each of the angled stitches.

The backstitch is the hand alternative of the sewing machine’s “straight stitch”. It can be used to repair a seam. Insert a threaded needle (be sure to knot the thread) from below the fabric layers 1/8 inch to the left of where your stitching should begin. Pull the thread through the fabric until the knot is snug against the fabric. Then insert the needle 1/8 inch behind where the thread emerges. Then bring the thread up 1/4 inch beyond this insertion and pull the thread up snug. Bring the needle up 1/4 inch beyond the latest insertion and pull through. Continue stitching as far as needed.


Anne Schiffer hand sewing Hu Xui

Completed Hu Xui

Open Air Sewing circle