Knife File

Completed: 2003

Details: Found knife file, Lamson & Goodnow Cutlery Mfg., Shelbourne Falls, MA

“Knife File” is part of a long running series of artworks likening the work of knives to the work of words. “Knife File” was made at Lamson & Goodnow, Shelbourne Falls, MA, one of the country’s oldest continuously operating knife factories. This file drawer was found in the attic of the early 19th c. mill, and catalogues the types of knives made at the factory in the last 100 years.

My interest in cutlery draws from its use as a kitchen implement alongside the complex metaphors of cutting, separation and difference. The bodily metaphors of the knife are underscored by the names of the knives themselves, pointing back to the knife user as well as the body acted upon: artist’s palette knives, butcher knives, lamb splitters, one arm knives, and skinning knives.

I liken the knife’s status as instrument to the instrumentality of us as subjects, suggesting the mutability our intellect, our bodies and our labor. The humorous and irregular naming and index suggests an unruly subject, imperfectly disciplined into a system of classification.