Thursday, 22.09.2011

Dance – Theatre – Film

Dance, Tulle, and Tutu – Illusions of Weightlessness.
Dorothea NicolaiZurich Opera House 

The tutu epitomises the classical ballerina’s attire, besides supporting her movements in creating the illusion of weightlessness. This talk explores the history of the tutu, which spans the romantic, levitating kind to the short, stiffly projecting version, made of many layers of tulle and existing in different qualities and spanning an array of colour. Which technical ingenuities are involved in constructing a piece of clothing capable of satisfying all requirements of movement? Why is the tulle the stuff of dreams, and which kinds of tulle are distinguished, depending on the desired effect? How does one decorate a tutu-cover? I shall discuss the symbiosis between observing movement and tailoring techniques, the latter involving the selection of material and pattern calculation, to achieve the desired artistic effect.

Clothes – Dance – Shoes: What moves what?  
Katja Stromberg, Bochum

Based on historical originals (that is, twentieth-century dance clothes), this talk first explores possibilities for the interaction between dance attire and its wearer. Worn on a moving body, a dress itself begins to move, and thus acts back on the body. In the case of a dance dress, this mutual relationship becomes a principal element of design: the garment can cover the body, extend it, constrict it, or explicitly exhibit it. Each piece of clothing bears the traces of its use, which in turn allows us to draw further conclusions about the deployment of individual items of clothing. Considering the traces left by wearing clothing is especially relevant to shoes, since this element of dance attire renders particularly obvious the interaction between dancer and garment. Shoes must be mastered by their wearer – be they pointe shoes or stiletto heels – and not only on stage.

Exploring Movement in Early Soviet Cinema: Body and Costume Interplay in Yakov Protazanov’s film «Aelita». 
Chryssa Mantaka, Aristotle University Thessaloniki

This paper aims to examine aspects of bodily motion and costume movement as silent film narratives in one of the most interesting examples of Russian avant-garde cinema, Aelita directed by Yakov Protazanov. Aelita, the queen of Mars based on a novel by Alexei Tolstoi marks the birth of science-fiction cinema in Soviet Russia in 1924 and is mostly distinguished by the bold costumes designed by Alexandra Exter. Nadezdha Lamanova, one of the best known fashion designers of the time, has also contributed to the film. Both artists were excellent theorists and practitioners of costume design in fashion, theatre, film and in education.  We should also stress the fact that the concept of movement played a crucial role in the theory of dress evolved by these Russian avant-garde artists. Undoubtedly, the first two decades of the 20th century in pre and post-revolutionary Russia were marked by the investigation of the body in movement at work, in art and in everyday life. For example, eurhythmics, biomechanics, montage techniques and eccentric dances comprised some of the new alternative movement systems offered in the performing arts. An analysis of costume and movement in this film Aelita is a challenge offering a full aspect of tendencies in contemporary soviet fashion but also in futuristic styles, followed by the Russian avantgarde artists.

Verve in Black-and-White: The Film Costumes of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.
Katharina Tietze, Zurich University of the Arts 

«They are pure honey», Stanley Donen once remarked about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. In the 1930s, this famous dance act created a new style of musical film, including motion pictures like «Top Hat». While the Great Depression held the United States in its grip, audiences flocked to cinemas to indulge in their dreams with the screen couple, which seemed to float over the dance floor. To this day, Rogers and Astaire’s elegant style, whose hallmark are precise transitions from acting scenes to song and dance numbers, remains impressive. The fairly banal plots contain scenes in the first half in which the couple finds one another. Their costumes characterise a meeting of equals, in which Ginger Rogers often wears trousers. During the grand finale, the convention of the romantic couple is also reflected in their attire: Astaire is dressed in a tuxedo or tails, Rogers in voluminous evening dress, the latter designed to place special emphasis on her dance movements. Besides exploring the costumes in these two kinds of scenes, this talk considers the role of fashion and clothing within various film plots and the relationship between film costumes and fashion in the golden age of Hollywood cinema.

The Stage as Catwalk: Costume Aesthetics in Outdoor Theatre. 
Yvonne Schmidt
Zurich University of the Arts 

«[The costume] as such must remain inconspicuous and yet exist at the same time. [..] It must be both material and transparent: it should be seen, but not looked at.» (Roland Barthes, 1955)
Costumes play a major role in theatre. Nevertheless, Barthes’s «Paradox of the Costume» remains valid to this day, as the critic Wolfgang Kralicek recently observed: «Costumes are the eternal supporting cast of theatre.» Current theatre practice, however, tends toward costumes that not only have an auxiliary function, but also possess intrinsic value: from a revalorisation of material to the staging of haute couture, from the coalescence of body and costume to sculptures and the use of everyday materials. These trends are also evident in outdoor theatre productions in Switzerland, the subject of an SNF/DORE research project entitled «The Aesthetics of Outdoor Theatre,» based at the Institute for the Performing Arts and Film (IPF) at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). The project explores outdoor theatre using qualitative methods of empirical social research, in conjunction with theatre studies and costumes research. This talk focuses on the interactions between costumes and theatre productions from two perspectives: on the one hand, how do the specific production conditions of outdoor theatre affect costumes? And on the other, how do costumes influence the aesthetics of production?


Friday, 23.09.2011

Movement in Clothing

Fashion in the Wind: Coincidental, Artifically Produced, and Imagined Metamorphoses of Dress.
Gundula Wolter, Berlin

Vivienne Westwood called her 1996/97 A/W collection «Storm in a Teacup.» Its hallmarks were extreme width in the back and countless wafting bands. Her collection played with the coincidences evoked by body movements (from within) on the one hand, and by wind movement on the other (from without). Clothes are objects created and being created for use. Hung in hermetically sealed display cases, they are «dead.» Only on the moving body or when exposed to external influences do they spring to life. Clothes, when worn, are thus confronted per se with movement. But as fashion history reveals, they have been subject to richly faceted uses. At certain times, movement has been foregrounded as a theme, either explicitly or emphatically, while at others it has been ostentatiously repelled, curtailed, and even rendered impossible. Patterns, materials selection, and the choice of surface are crucial in this respect. This talk discusses the metamorphoses of clothes exposed to the wind. It deals with fashions thriving on wind, with those that play with the effect of accidental exposure, and with those achieving effects by means of wind (machines). I shall illustrate and discuss this strained, enduring relationship with a range of visuals from the past and present.

The Art of Gathering Clothes – Or how can creases be tamed?
Regina Lösel, Nidderau

«The Art of Gathering Clothes» was a practice amply described in early twentieth-century companions and journals. At the time, this art was conceived as a controlled gesture, during which the movements of clothes and the human body were appraised according to moral standards. On the one hand, learning this art became necessary, because women became increasingly present in public space, moving about the streets of large metropolitan cities, and also because clothing possessed the width, length, and wealth of fabric that hampered walking and hindered women’s flow of movement. On the other hand, the art of gathering clothes was associated with the demand for vestimentary movements to be shaped by body techniques, so that individual parts of the female body were not rendered visible, that is, that they could be shown only in a socially acceptable manner. The discussions waged in the companions focused on fabrics, particularly on the crease. This talk considers the specific movements involved in the art of gathering clothes, which is characterised by swift and disorderly gestures. I consider the formulas and recommendations suggested at the time for turning such gathering into an appealing creasing of clothes. One question in this respect concerns which kind of potential movement is lost thereby, and which might consequently lead to complete standstill. 

«Always in Control»: Re-animating the Duchess of Windsor’s clothing fashions.
Peter McNeil, Stockholm University

Between the wars the Duchess of Windsor (1895/6?-1986) was a quintessential female sartorial modernist. It was an image built on a type of obsessive discipline and iteration of gestures and actions in ‘appearing’ and also in managing a household – ‘she was always in control’, noted her friend Carol Petrie. Photographic and drawn representations of her by Man Ray, Cecil Beaton and Horst played a role in disseminating new silhouettes and profiles for modern women. Yet these images are frozen, and they drain the kinesic element of wearing garments for which she was notable. The Duchess of Windsor brought her clothes into a range of animated performances, which can be reconstructed through film, photography and memoirs. The jewellery collection constituted a type of endless writing over the body, being inscribed with private messages in the prince’s hand-writing by the jeweler-engravers. Their technical and aesthetic innovation lay in their ability to move, to be flexible and pliable, to mould to her clothes and her body. Her initials and quasi-royal cipher were embroidered onto both inner and outer clothing, and incorporated into the structure of her dwelling spaces. This paper will relate the modernity of the Duchess’ sartorial movement to more archaic and emblematic poses. Perhaps her appearance was so compelling because it linked her contemporary life to early-modern traditions of personal jokes and personal allegiances reiterated through the wearing of clothes, craft practices and gift exchange.

The Fringed Zonari of Peloponnesus: More observations on the Classification and the Technology of the String Belts in Greece.
Sofia Tsourinaki, Pireaus

In agricultural societies through Europe, dress has functioned to communicate important attributes of the individual to the community. In rural Greece, women used to attire their bodies in socially – approved garments to signify age, gender, marital status and motherhood. My presentation will focus on a long belt of Peloponnesus, Greece, called zonari. The Peloponnesian zonari has been interpreted by scholars as a modern example of the ancient string skirt, a ritual textile with eye-catching cords and moving tassels worn to indicate the childbearing ability of women. These skimpy and breezy garments appear in clear representations on female statuettes from the «Old European» cultures which existed as far back as the Palaeolithic era. The Peloponnesian zonari is made in a technique called sprang, a process of interworked elements produced on a frame so that the fabric is built up on both ends. Archaeological and linguistic evidence indicates that, in Europe, the technique has been in practice for over three thousand years to make head bands, hairnets and caps. The specified prophylactic characteristics of the belt (unusual structure of sprang technique, long fringed tassels, tie-dyed ornamentation and protective quality of the color) went beyond mere decoration by signaling the woman’s reproductive goals to the community.

Technologies and Techniques of Movement 

Textile Futures. New Materials for Fashion, Design and Architecture.
Bradley Quinn, London

Textiles connect a variety of practices and traditions, ranging from the refined couture garments of Parisian fashion to the high-tech gossamer filaments strong enough to hoist a satellite into the stratosphere. As fashion textiles embrace technology, they transform clothing into wearable computer interfaces by integrating software, communication devices, healthcare systems and speech recognition sensors. As high-performance fabrics are being reconceived as immersive webs and information exchanges, their ability to interface with the built environment has resulted in a new paradigm of lightweight, interwoven architecture. These days, carbon fibres, non-woven fabrics, coated textiles, metallic fabrics and tri-axial meshes are popular alternatives to bricks and mortar, while tensile buildings and pneumatic structures forge a new direction for outdoor structures. Pliable textiles are revolutionising earthquake construction, and geotextiles enable landscape architects to reshape the natural terrain. As today’s textiles change how the body is experienced and how the urban environment is built, they reveal their capacity to transform our world more than any other material.

«This attire must be both practical and becoming»: The Development of Ladies’ Ski Clothing from Skirts to Trousers.
Rebecca Niederhauser
Zurich University of the Arts 

The bourgeois discourse on the human body and its special anthropology of women call for a cultural technology of the body. Fashion and movement are two performative categories capable of constructing gender-specific bodies. Correspondingly, nineteenth-century fashion mirrors the culturally constructed conception of the female sex, which the imagination conceives as inefficient, fragile, and passive. It is not until women were permitted to do sports on hygienic grounds that a debate on the redefinition of femininity began. Sports thus became a site for the reproduction and staging of gender relations. Consequently, such inclusion gave rise to the alignment of sports fashion with specific motion sequences, a development exemplified by the protracted transition from ladies’ skirts to trousers, a shift that documents the changing image of women toward vitality, resilience, and performance. Using the example of the parallel emergence of the rise of winter sports on the basis of hygienic grounds and ladies’ winter sports fashion in the late-nineteenth century, this talk discusses to what extent fashion and movement construct gender-specific body images through their mutually contingent interaction, and thus can be understood as a body technology.

Horse Riding Fashion – Clothes made for movement.
Maren Raetzer, Hanau

Movement and mobility are both part of human life. Along with proper motion on foot, for centuries moving around or indeed travelling on horseback was one of the most important types of movement. Horses were not merely a means of transport, but they were used in warfare, for hunting, and for recreational activities. While medieval men and women probably wore everyday clothing when riding, gradually a particular kind of clothing, better suited to horse movement, began to emerge. Female clothing merits particular attention in this respect, since social requirements for fashion propriety and the need for agility not always coincided, and thus gave rise to specific horseriding attire. This talk explores the space that society afforded women on horseback, not only as seen from afar, but also in terms of fashion. Key questions in this respect thus include: how did special clothing enable movement or purposefully restrict it? Which external effects were thereby achieved? When was leeway granted? What does such leeway tell us about then-contemporary attitudes toward femininity? 

«Not without my sportive corset!» Corsets and Movement in the 1920s.
Josephine Barbe, Technische Universität 

Sport became tops! The 1920s abounded with people running, dancing, cycling, and swimming. Mobility and the freedom of movement were en vogue and rendered obsolete the conventional, steel-reinforced corset. The sporting woman’s role model was the American girl, who was young – athletic – audacious. By introducing rubber, America thus came to the rescue of corset manufacturers! The corset was now subject to a major overhaul: slip-on design rather than lacing; division into a brassiere and suspender belt; and a new name – «Corselet» – all helped update this previously stiff garment. One of its startling representatives was an American para-rubber corset, whose «fat-reducing» effect promised to shape the female body in sustainable manner: a slim waistline was no longer sought-after, but instead prominent breasts and hips had to be sacrificed to the American teen role model – thereby constituting a radical change of the traditional image of «femininity»! The bathing and beach euphoria of the 1920s became a further triumph for the corset industry. While women’s statutory bathing equipment around 1910 still consisted of several parts, whose precious fabrics were ruined by any contact with water, corset manufacturers scored another coup: the bathing suit. Meanwhile, the burgeoning sports movement had not managed to abolish the corset, since modifying the rigid corset to become a flexible, elastic, and breathable body shaper enabled women to enjoy both mobility and sportiness, besides helping manufacturers do good business.

Clothing as Movement and in Motion.
Christoph Allenspach
Zurich University of the Arts  

Clothing epitomises movement, as that which moves per se: first, as a three-dimensional configuration of interacting fabrics, colours, forms, surfaces, and so forth; secondly, as an «accessory» of the human body, whose movement in turn also moves fabrics; thirdly, as that which is perceived just as it appears, in certain and yet different situations. Drawing on Edmund Husserl’s aesthetics of the cinema and its conceptual framework, this talk explores clothing and movement in an attempt to approach complex, spatial, and time-based situations and sequences of events. In doing so, I distinguish various different situations: while in everyday situations the movement of clothing tends to be perceived rather casually, since as a rule habitual body movements interact with ordinary clothes, unusual situations, by contrast, such as the presentation of clothes on the fashion catwalk, in dance or in art, can achieve particular effects. In such situations, clothing takes centre stage, whereby clothes and movement are aligned to achieve certain effects – as a result of deliberate fashioning or staging.


Saturday, 24.09.2011 

Rituals and Clothing

Changing Cloaks – Moving Images. Mary Magdalene and Francis of Assisi.
Silke Geppert, Dommuseum Salzburg

Evidence for the passion theatre in Italy has existed since the mid-thirteenth century. Thus, the late Frondiniano lauds offer an account of Mary Magdalene removing a red cloak in her passion and requesting a black one in its place. This «song of the mantle» subsequently became part of numerous passion plays, and it has since shaped the representation of the «covers» worn by this particular saint. Besides this detail of clothing, Mary Magdalene’s synthesised biography had at its disposal several vestimentary precepts, an entire «chamber or wardrobe of clothes,» as depicted in numerous paintings down the centuries. The central site of these covers and how they have changed over time is indeed a prominent place, where being well-attired is advisable, namely, the cruxification of Jesus Christ. Clothing, as a cover invested with the power of speech, provides scholars with a wealth of hitherto uninvestigated material. That said, it is not self-evident to draw conclusions about social dress from the clothes worn by Mary Magdalene on altarpieces. However, this talk claims that the saint’s «covers» are subject to a specific dress code, which is partly contingent on metaphor, partly on symbolism and legend, and that the attiring and removal of such clothing bears a media-related significance for the saint’s life and its meaning. Francis of Assisi and thereafter Mary Magdalene are the first two saints of penance, and whose «vestimentary» biographies came to move images.

Performative Paraments: On the Functions of Visual Representations of Liturgical Gowns in the Context of the Holy Mass from the Thirteenth to Sixteenth Centuries.
Barbara Margarethe Eggert, Berlin

More an exception than a rule in the twelfth century, the illustration of liturgical gowns had become firmly established by the fifteenth century. Depending on the type of gown, evidence exists for genuine forms of ornamentation, principles of composition, and a spectrum of motifs. Particularly within the context of the Holy Mass, paraments either enter into dialogue both with their wearers’ body movements and with the spoken word, or they temporarily replace word and action. As indispensable design elements of liturgical actions, the functional potential of textiles is by no means limited to identifying clerical hierarchy and the locating of divine services in the church year, as conveyed by the accidental use of colour. Instead, as I argue, paraments should be interpreted as reality-engendering, representative elements of the performance of liturgical actions and their different levels of meaning. Based on a study of chasubles, dalmatics, and tunics, this talks aims to show how textile iconography not only transformed celebrants but also rendered simultaneous the history, present, and future of salvation. That is to say, I explore how transtemporality was brought about, and how donors knew how to use the performative potential of paraments to embed their memoria.

Performing Cloth(es): Clothing and Ritual in Traditional and Contemporary Africa.
Ursula Helg, University of Vienna

Textiles enjoy great esteem and attract much attention in most African cultures. Traditionally, they play an eminent role in religious, social, and political life. Along with ornamental painting, scarification, plastic-physical changes of the body, and hairstyles, they are one of the oldest and most important visual means of expression. Both processed and unprocessed, they establish meaning and sense, and function as a medium of distinction. Wearing certain items of clothing and particular accessories serves not only to demonstrate identity, social affiliation, wealth, and power, but indeed also to mark transitions in life, such as birth, coming of age, marriage, and death. It is within the context of such ritual occasions and other feasts and ceremonies that the rhetoric of textiles optimally unfolds. Thereby, the body is elaboratedly staged as a speaking image, and changed into a stage. Using selected examples, this talk discusses textiles and fabrics as an ephemeral medium of constant change.

L’Adonis du jour: Men in the Boudoir. 
Anna-Brigitte Schlittler, Zurich University of the Arts 

In the last quarter of the seventeenth century, the act of getting up and dressing – le lever du roi – had literally become the centrepiece of the absolutist court and its mechanics. Already in the previous century a visible, both politically and symbolically significant ritualising of «the daily life» of the French kings had begun to emerge before the eyes of a carefully selected public sphere. Manifoldly documented in various written sources, this ceremony disappeared once and for all following Louis XVI’s fall from power. Nevertheless, the daily metamorphosis of the absolutist monarch occasionally still casts its shadow on (French) visual culture to this day. In the following centuries, the motif of men getting up in the morning and dressing erratically runs through various different media and contexts – from the genre image through caricature to film. Not seldom are important contemporary discourses reflected therein, for instance, libertinism or the bourgeois dissociation from the conventional image of aristocratic malehood.

On the Catwalk

How Fashion Photography Started to Move: Paul Poiret, Edward Steichen, and Jacques Henri Lartigue in the Early Twentieth Century.
Joya Indermühle, University of Zurich

In the early twentieth century, a development of fashion images and pictures became apparent that can be traced to a changing notion of fashion on the one hand, and to the rise of photography and film as new media on the other. This constellation led to increasing interest in fashion as a phenomenon taking effect on the moving body. The haute couture designer Paul Poiret played a decisive role in the changing aesthetics of fashion photography. His designs revolutionalised fashion and demanded new visual strategies. Studio photography of the 1910s, which adhered to a canon of static poses and exchangeable arrangements, failed to do justice to Poiret’s avant-gardist fashion designs for the modern woman. In view of fashion photography representing movement, pioneering tendencies emerged from Poiret’s circles. This talk focuses on two such examples: on the one hand, I explore Edward Steichen’s pictorialist photographs, which employ natural lighting, seemingly accidental details, and pose-associating motion sequences, to convey a sense of spontaneity unusual at the time. On the other, I discuss photographs shot outdoors by Jacques Henri Lartigue, whose work features elegant ladies attending glamorous events – often pictured in motion or in conversation, thereby affording these pictures the immediacy of a snapshot.

When Fashion Shows Became Fashionable.
Marie Helbing, Technische Universität 

Clothing must come alive on the human body and unfold in space so as to take effect on the beholder and the wearer (Lehnert 2001). From this principle, which conceives clothing per se as an inevitable act of performance, we may infer another leitmotif of fashion, namely, that of dynamics. Taken together, performance, change, and tempo are phenomena of modernity, through which they are in turn constituted and rendered tangible (Virilio 1989, Loschek 2007). Fashion shows blend these principles, only to summon them anew each season. This talk considers the displaying of clothing as a media- and dynamic practice. Tracing historical developments from the mid-nineteenth century through current shows, I explore changing staging practices and historically specific influences, as reflected in the presentation of fashion. This synopsis reveals the emergence of displaying fashion on the body and in space, whereby the stage becomes a moving advertising space for fashion designers (Helbing 2010). The history of fashion shows thereby implies aspects of fashion history, since fashion is the principal element of that which is displayed. Along with the catwalk, it forms the continuous basis of staging and production, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in a fairy tale world. Fashion and staging, I argue, are thus equally important.

Controlling Space/Controlling Movement: Theatre, Ritual and the Illuminated Runway Body.
John Potvin, University of Guelph

In 1983 Italian designer Giorgio Armani moved his atelier and residence to a 17th-century palazzo in 21 via Borgonuovo, Milano. It is here, in the palazzo’s basement, that Armani’s theatre is located, the place where Armani presents his twice yearly men’s and women’s runway collections. It is here (within the privacy and intimacy of the basement level of what is ultimately the private spaces of his studio and even more intimate spaces of his home) where Armani extends such an intimate invitation to the fashion world, an act no other designer in the last quarter of the twentieth century has done. It is here that Armani, like a director, conjures, even if only for ten minutes, a theatrical event, cinematic in tone and complete with stage directions, actors, video and lighting personnel and above all else highly charged emotion. In the ten or so minutes of a runway show the designer must entice buyers and elicit desire through the press, but also when the purity of vision and emotional presence the clothes conjure it is most present and untainted by outside competing forces. Textiles are an integral part of Italian and specially Armani’s fashion, and as a result, I will argue that certain controlled movements are necessary and vital to educate the viewer, a choreography which best illustrates textile innovation and luxury. In addition, much has been made of Armani’s control – now legendary.

The Dissolution of the Body in Movement. 
Gunnar Schmidt, University of Applied Sciences Trier 

Since the advent of fashion photography, fashion is no longer conceivable as an unmediated phenomenon. Using the example of a media installation that formed part of one of Alexander McQueen’s runaway shows, this talk illustrates how the use of media engenders a second reality, one which does not leave unaffected the human body. McQueen’s installation brings to bear an excentric aspect of the fashion-media «dispositif» (or apparatus), namely, the dissolution of the body. Analysing this mise-en-scène reveals that the rendering irreal of the body coincides with a highly condensed semantics. On the one hand, this underpins responses to contemporary events, and on the other it turns a phantasma into a moved image shaped by occidental visual culture. Amongst other questions, this talk raises for discussion the relationship between fashion as a realised corporeal medium and fashion as a media phantom.