17 Feb 2024
Knitting Conversations is a monumental installation by Hong Kong artist Movana Chen (b. 1974) reflecting on female labour, personal and shared memories, material transformation, and time. Originally conceived as a participatory work, Knitting Conversations was first exhibited in 2013 where audience members were invited to contribute to the work by bringing along a treasured book.
Books and paper have been used for millennia to transmit knowledge and experiences. Chen transforms books by shredding the books’ pages, abstracting and decontextualising their content, to turn them into ‘yarn’, a medium traditionally for craft. Through her conversations with collaborators while knitting the work, the artist makes new and intimate connections that transcend language, politics, culture, and gender. Her process creates safe and nurturing situations where the focus is on spending time together, sharing experiences, emotions, and ideas, and the wonder of learning something new and unexpected.
Following the end of her 2013 exhibition, Knitting Conversations continued to grow through the collaboration of many individuals donating their books and time to the work across many different locations, including Amsterdam, Bangkok, Berlin, Krasnoyarsk, Kuala Lumpur, Lhasa, London, Melbourne, Moscow, Paris, Philadelphia, Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Toronto. This culminated in an exhibition in Los Angeles in 2017, where the work was finished. This will be the first time that the completed work is shown in Hong Kong.
Image at top: Movana Chen. Installation view of Knitting Conversations (detail) at KNITerature, ArtisTree, Hong Kong, 2013. Courtesy of Wai Lok Cheung