Costume Making as Practice of Phenomenology: an Embodied Approach to Materiality and Movement in the Creation of Performance Wearables
Research on costume is increasingly challenging the primacy of the body within the relationship with materiality. My research investigates the creative agency of costume from the phenomenological approach of costume as movement practice. Questioning why costume might be understood as a creative agent emerges from my practice as costume designer and expanded approaches to performance-making through an engagement via the Merleau-Pontian notion of flesh as the intertwining of body and world. While scholarship on costume materiality and creative practice is gaining ground, problematizing notions of costume by approaching it as a movement practice establishes the focus of this enquiry on the body. In this presentation I discuss how framing my body through phenomenology enables me to develop a costume workshop research context to describe my experience of the performance wearable creation and the significance of describing my experience of the relationship between the body intertwined with the transformation of materials and surroundings. I reflect on my research journey and how investigating the essential nature of realising a costume enables my increased understanding of the complexity of its materiality.
Berthe Fortin is a designer and maker for site-specific, immersive and community-inclusive theatre and performances. She graduated from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada with a 1st Class Degree in Fine Arts and holds a MA in Costume Design for Performance from London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. Berthe’s designs for costume-based performances have involved collaborations with movement practitioners, visual artists and filmmakers. Past commissions include costumes for the renowned site-responsive company dreamthinkspeak. She is currently completing a PhD in costume making as practice of phenomenology at London College of Fashion. Berthe works as part-time costume lecturer in the Theatre and Performance Department at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she has engaged students in her research.
Costume research workshop by Berthe Fortin with movement practitioner Elinor Lewis, 2019. Photograph by Rachael Champion.
Production by Louis Davies.