Parliament of clothes: moving from fashion victims towards clothing citizens

An ongoing artistic research project developed as a service design that consists of practices of workshop interventions. The process to be described here started by collecting “naked clothes” from personal archives, second-hand shops and popular high-street retail shops; and identifying “naked spaces” that function as a vehicle of engagement to start dialogues, embodied explorations and development of counter-narratives for fashioning of everyday life. The concept of “naked” in this research should be understood as matter that is liberated from the brand-logic mechanisms usually employed by fashion to promote and sell clothes. As a result, it creates awareness and reclaims agency among the participants of the interventions. Therefore, it stimulates the experience with the unseen, untold, unfelt, uncharted dimensions of fashion while unfolding the perception of conventionally unregarded properties of matter. This approach catalyses conscience and knowledge thrusting the participants to emerge with a renewed perspective.

Through these interventions, I aim to demonstrate what clothing and other materials of fashion do, instead of focusing on what they look like. This approach enables fashion to be perceived as a process, instead of a fixed concept. 

Graphic design and bookbinding by Carolina Aboarrage

Pictures Lot Meijers.

Workshop intervention

How can we create egoless spaces? In this workshop, we will rethink and redefine discipline-specific methodologies and vocabularies by trying to dissolve the Ego of art and science. We will do so by focusing on fashion, where Egos are continuously shaped, formed and commercialized. For instance, the Egos of consumers are often constructed through the clothing that they wear and buy-in ‘supermarkets of identities’ (Bauman 2000: 83). In addition, Fashion’s Ego is formed by the spectacle of the runway, glamour, money, star designers, seduction and constructed desire. This often denies the subjective dimension and lived experiences of the human beings who actually wear and/or make clothes. Moreover, this denies the actual material dimension of fashion. In this workshop, we move beyond human-centred thinking by drawing more attention to the actual materiality of clothing objects. 

We will give more agency – the capacity to act – to material objects and will engage with tangible pieces of clothing from our own intuition and our own artistic and/or academic background. Participants will be encouraged to perceive and feel what clothes do when situated in certain spaces and presented in different narrative universes. They will experiment with the methods of negotiating and electing by actively engaging with clothes as a source of ‘living’ material. Becoming aware of the agency of clothes will in this workshop facilitate moving beyond discipline-specific vocabularies and methodologies, to open up and create egoless spaces that will help to think, act and engage with each other in terms of roles.

Collaboration with dr. Danielle Bruggeman.
Create Space: an interdisciplinary research studio.
2019, Nijmegen

V*GUE: A Magazine Reader 

Re-reading the magazine by analysing the words, images, materiality, items and strategies of the specific magazine, changes the way we read fashion. In V*gue: a magazine reader, students ArtEZ MA Fashion Strategy generation27 explored a British Vogue from the perspective of ‘luxury’ today and the way it is being sold through fashion mass media. The material from the magazine is used to create a new zine that gives insight into the cultural power and forms of value production that’s at the core of fashion media. 

Through the methods of dissecting and collage, I unfolded the layered concept of luxury within postmodern cultures by mystifying its apparent diffuse approach. An essay pressing a critical view of the Layers of luxury provides a critical reflection on the way these layers are actually all intertwined.  

Graphic design by Corine van der Wal, in collaboration with Walter Books.

A Magazine Reader is a Warehouse production initiated by Hanka van der Voet and Femke de Vries.

PORTAL 002 by Elisa van Joolen

The second edition of PORTAL tracked the clothing of visitor’s of another location by using the same methodology of drawing lines between the items to investigate new connections among ownership, value and the materiality of the clothes. The responses elicited began with objective then gradually moved towards the subjective and emotional, creating a network that reveals a complex and layered system of the reality of clothing. This project was created by Elisa van Joolen. The outcomes of this research project were presented in a publication containing the visualisation and interrelationships between the mapped pieces of clothing as well as visitor’s responses. 

I participated in the production of this research project as Elisa’s assistant during an internship programme. Collecting, ordering and editing the data during the two days of the exhibition was also part of my contribution within this collaborative project.

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2018, Arnhem - State of Fashion

Publication designed by Beau Bertens.

PORTAL 001 by Elisa van Joolen

Tracking the clothing of the various visitor’s by drawing lines between the items in order to investigate connections among production, ownership, value and the materiality of the clothes. The responses elicited began with objective then gradually moved towards the subjective and emotional, creating a network that reveals a complex and layered system of the reality of clothing. This project was created by Elisa van Joolen in collaboration with students from ArtEZ MA Fashion Strategy generation27. The outcomes of this research project were presented in a publication containing the visualisation and interpretation of the collected data. 

I contributed with two essays. While the first investigates the relationship between emotional and monetary value, the second, written in collaboration with Cinzia Magnani, investigates people’s knowledge about the workers who made their garments. In the latter, we propose a new time of labelling system for garments in which all actors participating in the process are included.

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2018, Rotterdam - Museum Boijmans van Beuningen

Publication designed by Beau Bertens.