September 29, 2020

Tanya Huntington

My favourite textile object? I’ve decided on an infinity scarf that my sister knitted following the pattern of a Moebius strip. It’s too warm to wear it now, but I keep it handy as a treasured item. Why? Because sisters are interesting creatures – we are more alike to one another genetically speaking than to anyone else on the planet, and yet we are of course very different. Much like the paradoxical object created by Moebius, we find ourselves on opposite sides of an existential loop while also sharing the same side. My sister, being older, taught me many skills, including how to read. And yet I really don’t know if I ever taught her anything: probably not. Having been raised under the same roof, we learned many of the same domestic arts, of course, which includes knitting, but whereas I abandoned the needles long ago, she has steadily become more and more of an expert. Something else we shared as children was our fascination with M. C. Escher, who was obsessed with the Moebius strip as a motif. I think part of why I became an artist has to do with his prints, which no doubt also have to do with why my sister studied mathematics.

A dream item of clothing? As a neo-surrealist, I would have to go with one of the fantastical costumes imagined by Remedios Varo. I studied theater for many years and still love playing dress-up. The idea of clothes that belong to another realm, a dreamworld, appeals to me. A suit of fiery colors that flares into sails, allowing me to be propelled by the wind across the surface of water, for example, or one that channels the crackling glow of starlight. But I would settle for one of her spectacular headdresses, for example the one depicted in ‘El vagabundo’ that provides a pair of shutters that may be opened or closed before one’s face, so that one may find shelter and privacy even while wandering from place to place. As a migrant and traveler, I find this confection particularly tempting.

A piece of clothing that haunts me? Given that a haunting is not necessarily an entirely negative experience, by which I mean one to be shunned, I would have to choose a burgundy-colored faux leather jacket I own that belonged to my comadre Una, who passed away from cancer two years ago. Tununa Mercado wrote an eloquent passage En estado de memoria about the strange combination of feelings that arise when we wear clothing that belonged to our loved ones who are missing or gone – in her case, a chaqueta that belonged to a friend named Silvia who was abducted by the Argentinean military during the so-called dirty war. Mercado writes that in this garment, the contour of her friend’s absence lingers, and that when she wears it, it’s as if she were bearing Silvia on her shoulders. Una’s jacket is one that does not fit my style and in fact, it is rather tight across my shoulders, which are broad – nothing like her fine-framed anatomy – so when I do wear it, it is with the express purpose of communing with her for a while. I expect that when my goddaughters are old enough, I will pass it down to them. But only if they were able to feel it as more of a connection than a burden.

Tanya Huntington is a bi-national writer and artist. She is a member of the National System of Creative Artists of the National Fund for Culture and the Arts (FONCA) during the 2018-2021 cycle, and Managing Editor of the digital magazine Literal: Latin American voices. Tanya is the author of Solastalgia (Almadía / Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes, 2018), Martín Luis Guzmán: Entre el águila y la serpiente (Tusquets, 2015), A Dozen Sonnets for Different Lovers / Docena de sonetos para amantes distintos (Ediciones Acapulco, 2015), and Return / El regreso(Motín Poeta, 2009). She holds a Ph.D in Latin American literature from the University of Maryland at College Park, and currently teaches at CENTRO in Mexico City. She has also co-produced and contributed to public radio and television programs dedicated to culture and the arts, such as PuntoDoc for tvUNAM El Letrero and ReVerso for Canal 22 or Lo Sonado for Radio Horizonte. Her artwork has been exhibited in the United States and Mexico, and selected by prestigious venues such as the FEMSA Biennial. She has contributed to Comment Is Free for the Guardian, the Laberinto section of the newspaper Milenio, the Cultura section of La Razón, and the magazines Casa del Tiempo, Cold Mountain Review, Desbandada, df, Diario de Cuba, Este País, La Gaceta del FCE, Hoja por hoja, El Huevo, Letras Libres, Literal: Voces latinoamericanas, Metrópolis, National Geographic Traveler, Nexos, Otros diálogos, Periódico de Poesía, Sin Embargo, and Transtierros, among others. Follow her on Twitter