Yarns for Haiti + Vessel for Haiti

Yarns for Haiti (January 2010) was my direct response to the catastrophic tragedy of the January 12th earthquake in Haiti. In a six-hour durational performance as part of Performing on Paper #4 at Mobius, my piece was powered by audience members who accepted my invitation to write down their personal intentions for the amelioration of suffering in Haiti, using mulberry paper that I provided. My performance action was spinning. Using the traditional Japanese technique of shifu paper spinning to generate a quantity of paper yarn from the sheets, I spliced together the strands, softened with water, to connect multiple expressions of words, drawings, poetry and stories. When a critical supply of yarn accumulated on the spindle, I rolled it into a skein and offered it to Mobius Artist Group member Jane Wang who took some of it to knit (see above image detail).

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Yarns for Haiti (January 2010 at Mobius) | Performer: Catherine Tutter | Stills from video by Margaret Bellafiore

Jane Wang, knitted yarn full view / Photo: Nan Palmer

Knitted paper yarn from Yarns for Haiti (Performing on Paper #4, Mobius, January 2010). Knitter: Jane Wang / Photo: Nan Palmer

Jane’s knitting of the paper yarn resulting in a form that I have come to interpret as a boat for Agwé, Vodou spirit of the sea, fish and aquatic plants, and patron of fishermen and sailors. After she returned to me the unused portion of the skein, this charged material was used in a subsequent performance with Anna Wexler as part of Performing on Paper #5 (February 2010). Here, we bound the yarn to a prepared ceremonial vessel. After the binding was completed we  sat opposite each other at a table with the vessel between us and sewed red ribbons on a collection of metal milagros (charms) shaped as arms and legs, referencing the bodily destruction and dismemberment resulting from collapsed buildings and with the intention to mobilize healing resources toward injured survivors. This ritually-configured memorial performance constituted our first collaborative iteration of Vessel for Haiti.

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Vessel for Haiti (February 2010 at Mobius) | Performers: Catherine Tutter and Anna Wexler | Stills from video by Margaret Bellafiore

Vessel for Haiti II | Vessel for Haiti III | Vessel for Haiti IV