Friday, July 24, 2015

Cornelia Parker's Magna Carta at the British Library

Cornelia Parka, Magna Carter... almost poetry. Or sort of poetry.
Cornelia Parker is a genius. Although aesthetically, the perfection of this embroidery is almost disappointing, the concept is fabulous. People as diverse as the Right Honourable Ken Clarke and a battalion of prisoners have worked on this, which is a facsimile of the (dastardly) Wikipedia page on the Magna Carta. How very apt, now that Cameronia is trying to twiddle about with the present and thread it into the past is such a peculiar postmodern Etonian way.
The little illustrations are fascinating because they have each been embroidered using a different technique. I don't know enough about the formal terminology of embroidery to be able to label each one, but they are a feast for the eyes. They beam out in contrast to the steady plod of the prose which makes up the bulk of the piece, so carefully worked upon with such concentration by so many contributors.
Wikipedia is such a dead, downbeat way of engaging with information, and so much of it is wrong. I mentioned this to the chap at the Cybersalon who was trying to excite the audience about University students contributing to pages as part of research projects. He seemed terribly hurt, but the information about me was completely inaccurate, and I mentioned that to Gina afterwards and she told me that Vicky Aspinall had read that she was dead.
I don't think you can get more wrong than that, can you?
So the embroidery is a paean to dull old Wikipedia, carefully perfect but also conceptually so, reflecting as it does the access that so many people have to internet information. It's enormous, and what tempted me to it was the reference to the Bayeaux Tapestry which I saw when I was about 12 and which I have never forgotten. All those women, left behind at home and worrying about the battles going on, sewing the episodes as news came by carrier pigeon or singing bard or whatever: amazing!
Go to see it if you can, this weekend before it disappears off somewhere else.

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