Friday, September 25, 2009
Last night I went to see the documentary "Handmade Nation". It was a look at the rise of DIY craft/art/design in the US in recent years. It was an enjoyable movie, but I left the theatre feeling like some aspects had been overlooked. There was a real emphasis on the anti-capitalist, anti-consumer philosophy of the "indie" craft movement. I understand this ideology, especially its imporant stance in relation to our mass-produced western culture - BUT - as craftspeople who are creating (often) functional objects to make our living, we are relying on the desire of people to acquire, to buy, to consume what we sell. While they are motivated by different reasons to buy what we make as opposed to going to the mall, we still rely on that consumer desire. I felt like this aspect could have been explored in more depth.
I would have also liked to see more variety in the craftspeople themselves in terms of media and technique and the connection between the traditional crafts and the "indie" craft movement. Most of the crafters interviewed were sewers of some kind, many of them working with reclaimed fabrics, but I would have liked to hear the perspective of craftspeople who have chosen ceramics, jewellery, and weaving as their medium of choice and how they see themselves and their work in a contemporary context.
Another thing I would have liked is interviews with the people who are buying the work of the crafters. There were no interviews with customers, aside from retail shop/gallery owners. The customer is a very important cog in the viability and vibrancy of this movement, and they weren't given any time in the movie.
Aside from these constructive criticisms, I did enjoy the movie - it was great to see a subculture I am part of right up there on the big screen and to see its place in contemporary culture, and it was a packed house......