Residency: Siri Johansen and Ivana Bobic
Siri Johansen, a knitwear designer from Norway, and Ivana Bobic, a filmmaker from Serbia and the UK, completed a month-long residency at Thread in August 2015. Working both collaboratively and on their own projects, Siri and Ivana created a plethora of dynamic work including knit design projects, short films created with local children, and collaborations with local musicians. Taking pause from successful careers to (re)connect with other forms of exploring their crafts, they utilized the unique space, time, and new social and natural environments available at Thread.
Consequently, they engaged in numerous ways with the community they had the privilege of visiting. Through innovative knitting circles and creative video collaborations, they excited Sinthian’s chief who was particularly pleased to see visitors to his village who were there only to exchange mutually on a cultural level, rather than on the typical economic relationship so often struck.
Short Films by six children from Sinthian
Midway through Ivana's residency, she distributed Flip video cameras to a group of Sinthian kids. After giving them a few pointers on capture techniques, they were told to just take the cameras and film whatever they liked for a few days. Afterwards, Ivana worked with them to edit the footage into a selection of short videos. One example is below, and is indicative of the absolutely unprecedented look into Sinthian life made possible when you put cameras into the hands of the community itself.
Siri Johansen's knit tile project
Siri Johansen, currently head of men's knitwear for KENZO in Paris, used the opportunity at Thread to return to hand-knitting and some personal projects. This included a project of hand-knitted amorphous shapes, in some ways inspired by the locally designed tile pattern of Thread's floor. These lead to some interesting workshops with local students, all photographed by Ivana Bobic.
Naturally, Siri was eager to work with interested locals on knitting techniques. There is already a crochet practice present in surrounding villages, however the expense of materials and demanding time commitment of the craft often prevents the practice from flourishing. Through just a few knitting workshops, Siri was able to collaborate with local women on ways of sourcing material cheaply, and creating objects more quickly. T-shirts, sold inexpensively by weight at the local market were stripped and balled into yarn, while sticks were shaved to form needles.
Knit Hats | Photo Project
Siri and Ivana were quick to realize that knit wool hats were common fashion among men all around Senegal, including in Tambacounda. After teaching a few men how to knit their own hats, Siri and Ivana collaborated on a photo-project involving local hat-wearers and accordingly colorful architecture.
Ivana's Film Work and COLLABORATIONS
Coming from a career of creative success (with clients ranging from Stella McCartnery to Bloc Party), Ivana came to Thread with various projects. She captured extensive footage and soundscapes (including a collaboration with a local drum troupe) while in Sinthian and Tambacounda. One of the most remarkable projects she worked on saw the distribution of film cameras to a handful of Sinthian children. With almost no direction, cameras in hand, the children captured daily life as they chose to. The footage, lightly edited together, was screened at Thread for interested locals. Similar to one of the first projects at Thread in which disposable cameras were distributed to a school class, the result is the rare opportunity to see a rural Senegalese village without the filter of any agenda.