Cloth is the body’s first architecture; it protects, conceals and reveals; it carries a body’s weight, swaddles at birth, covers in sleep and in death. A patterned cloth symbolizes state or organization; a red cross stitched onto a white field is the universal sign of aid. A white cloth can be a ghost, a monster or a truce. John Constable described the sky in his paintings as a ‘white sheet drawn behind the objects.’ When we speak of its qualities, we speak of a cloth’s hand: we know it through touch. Cloth is the hand that is always touching. Its felt experience is evoked and described by the other hand that we always inhabit, that of language.
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