‘The Crystal Quilt’, Suzanne Lacy

On Sunday, the American artist Suzanne Lacy will create a new performance piece called Silver Action at Tate Modern in London. She has invited hundreds of women who have participated in political action in the past and are now at least 60 years old to take part in unscripted conversations about their experience.

The piece echoes an earlier work by Lacy, The Crystal Quilt, which invited 430 women, also over 60, to talk about their experiences of growing older. A video of that performance was shown at Tate recently, and the gallery has made a short film in which Lacy talks about the work and her own practice.

The Crystal Quilt, even in its trace on video, is a beautiful and moving artwork. It values solidarity and the collective experience that can be woven from individual strands. It recognizes the underappreciated aesthetics that women have always applied to domestic labour: the quilt, useful and ornamental, is richly symbolic of everyday creativity and deep human hopes about love and the meaning of life.

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