BBG Gala dresses, Photography by SIlk Studio
BBG party. Photography by Eilon Paz
I was invited by the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in June to make 3 dresses for their gala event celebration the opening our their new “green” Visitor Centre. I loved my time there, Brooklynites are such warm and genuine people. Bill Cunningham came to the event and wrote about it for his page in the New York Times. Big thank you to all of the staff at BBG who really supported my work and the volunteers who came and helped to sew garden cloth and moss! The models for which the dresses were tailormade were: Sonia Kwiatkowski, Nikeva Stapleton, Justine Watanabe. Merci les belles.
#1-5, Bill Cunningham’s page, New York Times
La Robe Jardin Mobile (The Mobile Garden Dress) was in Montreal this spring for the Rendez-vous Horticole garden show at the Montreal Botanical Garden. Dji Haché animated the dress for 3 days and her enthusiasm was infectious with the thousands of people who came through and watered her plants and tasted her herbs. These were selected and donated by Josée Archambault of Les Aromes du Petit Coteau.
The month of May was also the time of nightly demonstrations on the streets of Montreal, which became known as Les Casseroles. We heard about lawyers actually protesting so we took La Robe Jardin Mobile to the streets and handed them flowers as a gesture of support. It was fantastic to see all these daisies in hair and lapels amongst the black robes of the law.
The Jardin Mobile as a tent
On the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery (surrealist show banner in background)
In September 2011, Laurel Suffragette was created and conceived as a character coming from the late Victorian age, who had been active in the emancipation of women and the garment industry of her day, who had fought for reforms and safety in the manufacture area. Miss Laurel Green-Fairfashion was curious to see how the future had turned out, so she took a stroll down Robsonstrasse, Vancouver’s fashion district, to see what shoppers had to say regarding eco-fashion. The interventions varied from long one on one conversations, to people ignoring her because they suspected she was selling something, to having her picture taken with babies, to engaging store clerks. The most interesting was Laurel’s conversation about jeans with an attentive American Eagle clerk, which was cordial until she asked if the company checks on their factory conditions at which point the store manager quickly ushered Laurel out.
Nita Bowerman‘s acting skills were perfect for this type of spontaneous street intervention and the fact that Nita -an artist in her own right who has an interest in the fashion industry- brings an extra level of commitment to the intervention. Apart from making the garment, I did a photo shoot outside the Vancouver Art Gallery , assisted by Jessica Beisler before we walked down Robson street. This site has been long been used as a gathering place for protests (most recently site of Occupy Vancouver) and it seemed a perfect location for a suffragette from the past to land in Vancouver. The makeup was by Keith Murray and Michael Sider accompagnied us and videotaped the entire session. This footage will be edited into a Weedrobes video in the near future. It was my intention from the very beginnings of the Weedrobes project to take the outfits to the streets and i look forward to doing more next summer.
The dress was made from Laurel leaves pinned onto a framework made from bamboo seat caning. The mutton sleeves are based on the Keystone Jacket which was popular in the late Victorian age as a pattern for women to make their own clothing. The sleeves were covered with Hydrangeas and Baby’s Breath. The bodice was constructed from the bustier made for the Mobile Garden Dress, with a Jabot made from corn husks. The buttons were made from Cherry Tomatoes from my garden. The outfit was installed in my back yard for a few months and allowed to weather.
The Mobile Garden Dress is a self-sustaining garden and shelter for the new urban nomad, complete with pots of edible plants and a hoop skirt which converts into a tent at night. This garment is 100% compostable and recyclable. It is contrusted from natural materials such as Willow, basketry reed, grasses and leaves. The hoop skirt is covered in pots containing live edible plants such as herbs and vegetables. The dress advocates for an autonomous and democratic urban lifestyle based on self-sufficiency. During the day, Madame Jardin interacts with people and engages them in conversations about plants, gardens and composting. At night she can sleep in her tent/skirt, unwind and water her plants in a local community garden. Like a true nomad, her camp can be quickly transformed; her hoop skirt collapses into a light-weight framework, her organic cotton tent fabric becomes an elegant dress and all her belongings fit onto her wheeled structure.
The Mobile Garden Dress was commissioned for the Vancouver Children’s Festival
and was worn everyday for a week by artist/actor Nita Bowerman
, who was usually followed by a gaggle of chatty children who wanted to water her plants and smell the herbs. During this week I taught workshops to kids who helped create the Eco-Wardrobe installation, which consisted of outfits made from leaves and flower petals hung on a clothesline on site. I later added more detail to the dress and we took photos of Nita wearing it in a greenhouse at Southlands Nursery
owned by Thomas Hobbs
. For this I created an elaborate head piece out of edible flowers and added accents to the dress such as the collar made from Peruvian Chili Peppers. She was right at home in the steamy greenhouse surrounded by her potted friends. Watch video of the dress in action here
If you missed our show last year, then this is the perfect opportunity to come and see our all ages performance on Granville Island. 3 shows per day for 2 days. Free with wrist bands, which are allocated from at 11am on each day. Space is limited to 25 per show. Concept and design by Nicole Dextras and storytelling and choreography by Naomi Steinberg. Click HERE to see photos of last year’s show
Dates: Saturday, February 26th and Sunday, February 27th, 2011
Time: Daily, 12 – 12:30pm, 2:15 – 2:45pm & 3:30 – 4:00pm
Venue: Railspur Alley Park on Granville Island
The False Creek Bride is a multi-disciplinary performance inside a domed structure resembling a large white dress. Through storytelling the audience is guided on the mythical journey of Serena, a magical fish captured in a fisherman’s net. As the tale unfolds, she must bargain for her life by promising to supply the fisher with her bounty from the sea. The premise of the story is based on traditonal Celtic Silkie and the Inuit Sedna folktales and is given a contemporary twist as the fisher struggles with the communities need for his fish harvest. It is a tale woven with passion and enchantment; it aims to entertain while encouraging awareness of the environmental impact of our rivers and streams.
My second project was derived from the first one. The empty circles cut out of the felt spoke to me about the inevitable modernisation of Mongolian life; how the traditional Ger is being replaced by modern houses and apartments. This felt piece was purchased at the market and it was used, that is, it was once a ger covering. I hung it on the rocks as a temporary installation and then i had an artist, Megumi Shimizu wear it as a sort of house/cape. Megumi is a performance artist and she participated in several artist’s pieces on top of her own work. I want to thank her for her enthusiasm and patience.
I also went back to my first site up in the valley and played with the leftover pieces of dyed felt i had and created pieces that looked to me like boots, so i placed them in pairs and had them “walking” over the stone. The troops of Ghengis Khan marching over the land, conquering all…
This is pretty “heady” stuff but you have to love a man who wraps himself in lettuce! Watch video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kgr7gcwRrXE&feature=player_embedded
Organic shows the artist participating in various actions, in which he “dresses” himself partially or completely in different plants or types of food. The Performancevideo “organic” (2007), and a fourteen-part image and text series, “colonial/desire” (2007), updates the drama about the simultaneous limitation and transcendence of the body, turning it into a strategy of colonial desire, in which the individual primarily seems to be the“function of an ethnological view.”. He transforms himself into a hybrid creature, alluding equally to Oswald de Andrade’s Cannibal Manifesto of 1928 and the European fear of cannibalism, as well as to the manifesto’s expression of the idea that Brazilianculture should be regarded as an amalgamation “that eats and digests good European taste and the Old World’s ways of life, and brings forth something new, hybrid.”