Transcription of Piero Manzoni’s Infinite Line with Sewing Machine, a Performance by Elena Berriolo
Piero Manzoni was born on July 13th 1933 and died on February 6th 1963, therefore in 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of his death and the 80th of his birth.
Between 1959 and 1961, Piero Manzoni realized his Infinite Line. Some sections of the Infinite Line were realized by applying a paintbrush to a rotating roll of paper. One of his greatest problems was finding a way to produce an uninterrupted line of a great length and to do that he used a newspaper printer and other mechanical devices. When the roll of paper was exhausted, he had to lift his brush and start again with another roll.
Since Manzoni invested a lot of thinking toward finding a way to produce his line, I am wondering why he did not consider making it with a sewing machine. The process of tracing his infinite line would have been certainly much simpler than with a newspaper printer and a paintbrush.
Although the needle of the sewing machine goes up and down, the machine itself remains immobile; the line is produced by pushing paper or canvas under the needle. If Manzoni had used a sewing machine, it would have linked more than one support, solving many of Manzoni’s problems at once, therefore allowing him to make a line as long as he liked. Not only that, but as I stated in my article in The Brooklyn Rail “Why didn’t Lucio Fontana use my sewing machine?” the sewing machine makes it possible to produce a real three-dimensional line with a top and a bottom that may be moved through space.
A performance with sewing machine and the infinite line
1) A table and chair in a large room with a big window and/or access to the outside.
2) A number of helium-filled latex balloons tied to a weight on the ground. Color: as close as possible to International Klein Blue
3) A ribbon of undisclosed length
4) A sewing machine
Sitting at the table I sew a line on the ribbon. After sewing for a few yards I tie a balloon by sewing the balloon ribbon onto my ribbon, never interrupting the sewn line and proceeding after a few more yards to the next balloons for about 30 to 40 minutes.
With this process my line will fly up to the ceiling pulled by the balloons, drawing itself up in the space
At the end of the performance, I cut the ribbon and pull down the line, asking members of the audience to hold a section of it and walk outdoor. When outside, I will ask everyone to let go of the ribbon, leaving it to the elements. With this action the line will draw itself on the sky, up to the infinite.
The color of the balloons takes its inspiration from Yves Klein’s statement:
“We shall become airborne man, we shall know the force of attraction upwards, toward space, toward nothingness and everything at the same time, having thus dominated the force of earthly attraction, we shall levitate, literally, a total physical and spiritual liberty.”
Three small books including a section of the “infinite line” may be available for exhibition and for sale.
All images © Elena BerrioloMiscellaneous / Claes Tellvid, Piero Manzoni /