The Fitting Room. Communities of Practice and the Ambiguity of Touch
This presentation aims to discuss aspects of the fitting room situation from two theoretical perspectives: communities of practice and the ambiguity of touch (touching, being touched). The theoretical frame is intertwined with reflections from my own practice as designer/maker/educator/researcher and from discussions and interviews with colleagues and students from different disciplines at The Danish National School of Performing Arts and colleagues from the Danish theater industry.
The educational theorist and practitioner Etienne Wenger describes communities of practice as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger, 2004). Using the knowledge of Wenger I will explore questions such as: How does a newcomer enter a community of practice? How does an experienced educator introduce a student to the intimacy of the fitting room situation? What is articulated and what is not?
The philosopher Miika Luoto writes, “This essential aspect of all touching is perhaps most purely present in caress, where we approach the other by being wholly exposed to him or her, where we contact the other’s skin in a way that opens to an unfathomable depth.” (Luoto 2018) Based on Luoto’s reflections, I will reflect upon how we can enter a dialogue through the caress as awareness of intimacy of touch and the unfathomable as the ambiguity of touch.
Charlotte Østergaard is a visual artist focusing on costume, textile, fashion and performing art. Charlotte is a PhD fellow at Malmö Theatre Academy, Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts, Lund University, Sweden. Charlotte has designed costumes for more than 65 contemporary dance performances, including Danish Dance Theater, Skånes Dance Theater and Rambert Dance Company. Charlotte has received several grants from the Danish Art foundation. She has an extensive exhibition practice and her artwork has been exhibited at curated exhibitions in Canada, China, Danmark, Germany, Norway, Russia, Ukraine and USA, and is represented in the museum collection of Danish Designmuseum and The National Gallery of Denmark. In 2019, her costumes were presented at PQ2019 (Prague), “Innovative Costume of the 21st Century” (Moscow) and at the “Biennalen for Kunsthåndværk og Design” (Copenhagen) where her connecting-costume AweAre was nominated for the biennale prize. Charlotte has presented costume projects/research at CC2015, CC2018, IFTR World Congress, 2018 and Fashion, Costume and Visual Cultures conference, 2018. She has been published in The Society of British Theater Designers Blue Pages Publication (co-written with Sally E Dean), Studies in Costume & Performance, the Erasmus+ project ECTHEC on artistic entrepreneurship, and has written a chapter in the Danish anthology on artistic research ‘Kunstnerisk poetik – om refleksionsbegrebet i kunstnerisk udviklingsvirksomhed’.
Sally E. Dean