knittivism: n 1 a doctrine emphasising vigorous or militant knitting activity, e.g. the use of knitting in mass demonstrations, urban interventions, in controversial, unusual or challenging ways, esp political, causes. 2 the systematic use of knitting for political ends. knittivist n and adj
“Make Knits Not War” … A while back I stumbled across the virtual excitement (try here, or here) produced by Danish artist Marianne Jørgensen’s “Pink M.24 Chaffee“, an extraordinary translation of the slogan “make love not war” into the language of needlework. Critical of Danish (and US, UK, and other international) military involvement in Iraq, Jørgensen (with a bit of help) covered a WWI-era tank with with more than 4,000 15″ knitted pink squares she’d solicited from knitters world-wide. Fortunately, construction of this pink tank “cozy” was documented (you can view the short film here).
Jørgensen’s work may be the mother of all pink tanks, but others have been similarly inspired to make effective use of knitting in the service of protest and peace: painted pink tanks had been sighted earlier, in Czechoslovakia (1991) and South London (2002) (as well as a pink motorcycle and a knitted Ferrari). Newfoundland artist Barbara Hunt created “antipersonnel” (1998), a collection of about 50 knitted grenades and other explosive devices –
Most recently, comic strip artist Chris Baldwin featured a knitted tank in his “Little Dee” strip, evidence of the extent to which the pink tank has catalyzed protest: (part 2 of 3)
Of course knit-tivism may not be the total story – crochet, embroidery, and all manner of making and makers have turned their handwork to public ends. Have a look at: Craftivism: Is Crafting the New Activism?, Columbia Chronicle Online Edition, Summer 2006. http://www.columbiachronicle.com/paper/arts.php?id=2251