- I am using the garment and language of garment-making to unlearn my relationship with my body. A sleeve is no longer a sleeve, but a building block to create a three dimensional form. A garment no longer is this definable, easily understood object. The body is no longer easily understood in relation to these garments. The viewer cannot make any assumptions about the body, my body, or their body.
The question I am asked most often about my work is why I make garments only in my size. I used to answer by saying that my body is the most reliable, because it is right here with me. I can always rely on myself to do the performance, wear the garment. But really, it is to give form to this intangible thing- my body. To see my form outside of myself. To see my body, off my body. To feel comfortable in an uncomfortable world. It is a Pygmalion impulse- to sculpt and make real. And Sisyphean- this task can never be completed.
I used to document my work on my own body, because it was patterned to fit that body. But now, I am documenting my garments on their own, to ask myself, are they still garments without a body? These textiles stitched together, made from pieces that recall the body, that wouldn’t exist without the body. I am using the language of garments, but the words are no longer assembled in the correct -or assumed- order. The final form transcends garment, into something in between a wearable, a sculpture, and a skin.
- Garments give form. When we see a garment on a rack in a store, we can understand the relationship they will have with a body. A slim cut knitted garment will hug every curve, lump, and roll. A garment is a way of making the body real. Sleeves correspond with arms, collars and necklines with the neck. Bodices with torsos and chests. Pant legs and skirts with legs. An easily understandable garment, like a t-shirt, dictates a specific relationship with the body. But what happens when garments take on more abstract forms? What happens when you can’t define an opening for an arm as being different from an opening for a neck or a leg?
We are lumpy and bumpy. Fleshy and stretchy. We can expand with bloat, fat, muscle, and child. We can break and be reset. We can tone and sculpt and build. We can contract, slim, and disappear. We shed, flake and sprout. The body is always told to be different. More hard. More soft. More round. More angular. We add and we subtract. Lumps of flesh burst forth. Uncomfortable from the very beginning, we are taught insecurity.
The garments sag, build and fold. They limp, drape and hold their own. Some have one opening, some have multiple, and others none. They are constructed on a dress form, yet they are not a reflection of its shape. They are for any body, every body, my body and especially no body.