Parade Créole1 (see exhibition website) is an experiment in Artistic Dress which combines principles and ideas originally found in Das Eigenkleid der Frau by Anna Muthesius, published in 1903, and Black Skin, White Masks, 1952 by Frantz Fanon.
Das Eigenkleid der Frau served as an ideological handbook for the evolution of clothing in the early twentieth century. It was a touchstone of the Artistic Dress Movement of twenty years later, in which, among others, the women of Bauhaus used textiles to create artistic works which could be worn as garments. The idea of creating choreographies and their corresponding costumes as artistic rather than theatrical works was also a product of this movement.
The Artistic Dress Movement, also political in its goals, was a part of a larger social effort to ‘liberate’ women in public as well as domestic spaces. With a nod to this concept, I am using the idea of ‘Artistic Dress’ to create clothing for daily use, which should address the socio-political context of the wearer.
In Black Skin White Masks, two categories of violence are found. Firstly, the violence of the coloniser through annihilation of body, psyche, culture, along with the demarcation of space. Secondly, the violence of the colonised as an attempt to retrieve dignity, sense of self, and history through anti-colonial struggle. For the purposes of this project, I use Frantz Fanon’s idea of the colonised body, which can be interpreted as a body which is ‘trapped’ in a certain social context by capitalism enforced by racialised thinking2.
In creating ‘Artistic Dress’ for myself and three other female creatives from the Caribbean Diaspora, I am trying to subvert the idea of the creation of a scene of public violence. In the inevitable Spectacle3 of the colonial body’s navigation of oppressive capitalist societies, Masquerade4 is used as a tool in the public negotiation of identity whereby new, purchased narratives5 are created.
Thus far in this project, purchased narratives have manifested as Trinidad Carnival experiences, a published volume, an own fashion brand and the exhibition launch of this project’s very garments. Each manifestation is taken as – for the individual female in the Caribbean Diaspora – a costly Masquerade oriented towards a spectatorship within the geographical and digital diaspora6.
I begin to investigate the contexts of this diasporic spectatorship by launching the project in Kiel, inviting discussion and exchange via curatorial devices, artist talks and workshops culminating in a publication designed by Káschem Büro. The launch features a choreography by the collective Merle Mischke Klee, photography by David Dollmann, spiritual activism by Maque Pereyra and other art-making practises which encourage dialogues of transplantation.
1The word créole primarily refers to a language that emerged from several languages in the context of language contact. Many creole languages emerged in the context of European colonisation in the 17th and 18th centuries and the ensuing slave trade. Tore Janson, Speak: A Short History of Languages (2003)
Créolité is a literary movement which advocates a heterogenous Caribbean identity, bearing its differences proudly, being”neither Europeans, nor Africans, nor Asians, we proclaim ourselves Créoles”. (ni Européens, ni Africains, ni Asiatiques, nous nous proclamons créoles). Jean Bernabé, Patrick Chamoiseau & Raphaël Confiant, Éloge de la créolité (1989)
3Elsa Dorlin, Se défendre. Une philosophie de la violence (2017)
4In terms of Trinidad Carnival, a ‘masque’ refers to a band which wears costumes based on a particular theme, which is ‘played’ or ‘performed’ as theatre within the Carnival Parade. Crowley, Daniel J. “The Traditional Masques of Carnival.” Caribbean Quarterly 4.3-4 (1956): 194-223.
6Digital diaspora is defined as the use of cyberspace by a diasporic group using virtual networks for varying purposes involving the home and/or the host culture. Laguerre, M.S.. (2010). Digital diaspora: Definition and models. 49-64.