Art + Photo Essay Fashion

Soft Invasion: In Conversation With Liactuallee

Li explores themes of deconstruction and subversion in their work, challenging binary thinking while exploring dystopian and utopian visions.

Queer visual artist liactuallee proudly presented “Soft Invasions, stitch-punk visions,” an extraordinary exhibition of a collection of captivating crocheted sculptures and embroidery that offer a fresh perspective. The exhibition was hosted by Method Bandra in honor of Pride Month from the 20th of May to the 25th of June, 2023. It also featured smaller breakout events throughout the month, including performances, spoken word, and stitching circles.

Liactuallee is a transient being with a diverse cultural background, exploring fluidity of the world through mixed media drawings and fiber art. Li explores themes of deconstruction and subversion in their work, challenging binary thinking while exploring dystopian and utopian visions.

Rayyan Monkey caught up with li to chat with them about their recent work:

Rayyan Monkey: Liactuallee, it is a pleasure to have you here. Can you shed some light on the origins of the soft beings? How did they come to be crocheted into existence?

Liacuallee: Although I come from a primarily painting and drawing background, I have been working on ideas of imagined universes, and building my own alternate reality for some time. The switch to crochet actually coincided with my attendance at the previous Gaysi ZineBazaar 2022. Meant as a pause from artistic pursuits, the potential of yarn and a hook quickly became a chronic obsession. It became quite evident that the beings I was creating on paper were trying to push their way into our world.

Rayyan Monkey: Can you tell us more about the origins of your universe? How are the colorful organisms disrupting the bleakness of the world?

Liacuallee:  These tender profanities, as I call them, came about in an alternate dystopian landscape, where smog, rising temperatures, and habitat loss left the world bleached of color. They found a way to thrive and bring color into a monochrome world. They shapeshift, disrupt, and transgress borders, defying the constraints imposed upon them. They bring up the question: does the world react with excitement, embrace their transformative presence, or succumb to fear? The answer lies within each of us, as we contemplate the potential of these soft invasions to redefine our perspectives and reimagine our collective future.

Rayyan Monkey: Now, let’s delve into your artistic journey.  How did you embark on this creative endeavour, and how does it intertwine with your own queer identity?

Liacuallee: My artistic practice began as a quest to decipher my own complex identity, challenging the assumptions underlying gender and other binaries. When I found it futile to find a place for my identity in a hostile world, I embarked on a mission to create worlds that could encompass and embrace me. Inspired by the richly-imagined xenobiologies of Octavia E. Butler, I imagined alternate worlds where we can mend our relationships with the land.

Rayyan Monkey: It seems your journey has been influenced by various forms of textile art. How do crochet, needle-point, and embroidery play a role in this exhibit?

Liacuallee: As a child in Poland, I absorbed traditional as well as punk and feminist textile art, and those influences have resurfaced in this exhibit. Crochet, needle-point, and embroidery take center stage, allowing my tender profanities to push their way out of the flat plane and into three-dimensional reality. These techniques enable me to shift and adapt in orientation, mirroring the fluidity of the stitch and the body. Stitch after stitch, they encourage a state of calm, control of breath, and comfort within one’s own body. The fluidity of the stitch echoes that of the body, emerging and protruding past boundaries, unapologetically taking up space.

Monkey: What is this medium you chose, are you a failed tailor? What event is stitch-punk?

Li: As Roszika Parker’s The Subversive Stitch has taught me – needlework can be a tool of domination and symbol of oppression, as well as a means to agency and activism or rebellion and subversion. I am interested in the transgressive aspects of the medium, the connections between queerness and stitching. While, I think stitchpunk is the belief that through re-imagining fiber and craft practices, we can be inspired to grow towards more sustainable forms of creation and future envisioning.

Monkey:  Your fiber sculptures ask us to envision queerer, softer, and stranger futures. Can you expand on this plea for radical transformation?

Li: As xenophobia rises hand in hand with the sea-level, my fiber sculptures implore us to embark on a radical and yet beautifully simple act—envision queerer, softer, and stranger futures. By opening ourselves to the soft invasions of empathy and hope, we can transcend the confines of binary thinking and chronic toxicity. These creations serve as a gateway to reimagining our collective destinies, offering glimpses into optimistic futurist modes of existence. They challenge us to break free from the  limitations of our current reality and embrace the infinite possibilities that lie within our reach.

Monkey: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Li: Yes, I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I also want to thank all of you for visiting the show so far and engaging with my work. It has been an incredibly vulnerable experience putting my tender beings out there, and I am so honored to receive your appreciation. I want to thank my beautiful community of queers and weirdos, and everyone who has been with me through this journey. And I want to thank Method, for showcasing the work of an emerging queer artist, like me.

And there you have it, dear readers! An exclusive interview with the artist, Liactuallee!

Don’t forget to check: for more on them and their art.

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