‘Stitching with Metonymy,' Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture 11:3 (2013), 314-19.

Mitchell, Victoria ‘Stitching with Metonymy,' Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture 11:3 (2013), 314-19.


This invited article addresses the function of the ‘performative’ at the intersection between psychoanalytic discourse and ontological perspectives on making. The agency of textiles and specifically of stitch is analysed with particular reference to Jacques Lacan’s notion of the point de capiton (upholstery button or quilting point). It contributes to broader analysis of the point de capiton as explored by Madan Sarup, Malcolm Bowie, Slavoj Žižek, and others and, crucially, positions this analysis within contemporary discourse for textile and textile-related practice. Appropriations of textile terms within critical discourse are firmly assured but the bridge between such discourse and the activity of making, as encountered in contemporary practice, remains open to interpretation, as indicated in this dialogue. The research extends and reinforces the role of textile in effecting correspondence between theoretical and material positions, arguing that the Lacanian interpretation of point de capiton fails to account for the ‘act’ and activity of the stitching process. The way in which stich functions as a staging of complex narrative within the work of South African artist Leora Farber is considered, as is the etymology of stitch, as indicating point, puncture, punctum or prick, further reinforcing the way in which stitching functions as a gestural ‘acting out’ of discourse. ‘Stitching with Metonymy’ is located at the intersection between langage and a form of material enunciation for which the medium of textile is especially significant. The research extends the author’s previous consideration of making and metaphor with reference to textile, for example ‘Text, Textile, Techne’ 1997, reprinted in Jessica Hemmings (ed.) The Textile Reader (Bloomsbury, 2012), ‘Folding and Unfolding the Textile Membrane’ (2000) and ‘Drawing Threads from Sight to Site’ (2006).

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