Toward a Minor Textile Architecture

In Toward a Minor Architecture (MIT Press, 2012) Jill Stoner explains: "Minor architectures operate from outside the major economy, potentially outside the architectural profession, and outside prevailing critical frameworks – outside these dominant cultural paradigms, but inside architecture’s physical body… This is often a matter of economy, for minor architectures tend to rely on minor resources.” (15) Stoner calls for an attention to what has already been built – but now abandoned, foreclosed or generally disregarded. This chapter borrows its inspiration from Stoner’s call for minor architecture, which draws its own inspiration from Deleuze and Guttari’s writing on “minor” literature, and attempts to apply this thinking to textiles.

The chapter moves from the two dimensional blue print (Clark), through the small scale model (Schwerd) to the 1:1 installation (Adams): Kathryn Clark’s series of Foreclosure Quilts based in suburban bank statistics from the 2008 economic contraction in the US; Loren Schwerd’s Mourning Portraits woven of synthetic hair collected from African American hair salons abandoned after Hurricane Katrina destroyed sections of New Orleans where repair was not forthcoming; Igshaan Adams reconstructions of Cape Flats interiors of his childhood.

Stoner offers: “A minor architecture is political because it is mobilized from below, from substrata that may not even register in the sanctioned operations of the profession.” (4) The textile examples under discussion are arguably a further sub-set of the minor – most certainly unregistered by the architecture profession – but poetic and often haunting reminders of the real material loss at stake in the suburban peripheries many find easier to keep out of sight.

Chapter for the Sites & Spaces section edited by Kerstin Meincke and Kerstin Pinther of Entangled Histories of Art and Migration: Theories, Sites and Research Methods (Intellect: 2023)

  • Image credit

    Loren Schwerd Unmoored Near Dorgenious St.