Costume Scenographics

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What do costumes do? I ask this question with two positions in mind. First, I am interested in how costumes produce a sense of atmosphere, occasion, or event. Second, I propose that costuming as a socio-material technology orientates feelings of world. The first position is more straightforward than the second, but, as I will argue, are inextricability connected. My inspiration for this discussion proceeds from my experiences as part of the Costume Agency workshops in August 2021 at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO). My encounters with performances by costume artists such as Sally E Dean, Snezana Pesic, Lotta Barlach, Berit Haltvik and Jenny Hilmo Teig are formative to what follows. Indeed, I have written this chapter as a thought experiment in reply to what their costumes did; how they affected, orientated, and acted upon/with me. I was stuck by how these costume performances felt, over-and-above what they ‘looked like’. Accordingly, I now seek to rethink the established orthodoxies of costume – as simply visually codified, ‘symbolic dress’ – to argue costume as a technology. I propose that the techniques and cultural frames of costume change, transform, or irritate felt relationships between humans, nonhumans, and everything in-between. In an era of climate crisis as well as the cultural instability of social categories (whether gender, race, sexuality etc.), my aim for this thought experiment to unpack the underwritten felt place orientating traits of costume. I name these ‘costume scenographics’.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCostume Agency
Subtitle of host publicationArtistic Research Project
EditorsC. Lindgren, S. Lokter
Place of PublicationOslo, Norway
PublisherOslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO)
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9788270384242
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2023

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