DAPHNE KARSTENS & LORRAINE SMITH
‘The Material Directs’, a Reflection on the Visual Costume Research Project ‘SESSIONS’.
In this video flash talk, which combines audio and visual documentation, costume designer Daphne Karstens and dance artist Lorraine Smith will reflect on and analyze their collaborative costume research project ‘SESSIONS #1, #2, #3, #4’. During this 5-day intensive project, Daphne and Lorraine experimented with various (non-fabric) everyday objects on the (moving) body to create innovative costume pieces.
Varieties of (recycled) materials were used to explore sculptural and narrative capacities and the effect on the moving body. In each experiment, the quality of the material was used to direct the design and performance process. The experiments demonstrated how ‘simple’ everyday objects, such as bottle caps, plastic cups and cardboard boxes can be used in an abstract way to create innovative costume pieces, repurposing the material from ‘practical’ to ‘sculptural’. The outcomes also strongly highlight the potential transformative nature of everyday manmade materials into visually stunning costumes resembling organic forms that connect to current environmental and sustainability issues.
Working from the ethos ‘the material directs’, the artists engaged in a collaborative making process, allowing the qualities and possibilities of the material to guide the design and performance process. Daphne and Lorraine will reflect on their experiences of working in this open way. This will include the importance of discovering the ‘sculptural essence’ of each material through experimentation, manipulation and structural repetition, and the heightened responsiveness of the performer towards the costume by engaging in the making process.
The artists will conclude with a discussion on the potential creativity and innovation generated when the material is given agency in the design process.
Daphne Karstens is a Dutch costume designer based in Amsterdam. In her work she explores the concept of body sculptures to create experimental and innovative wearable art pieces. She often works with unconventional materials and combines the individual qualities of materials through experimentation with shape, structure and technology. She wants to explore and redefine the boundaries and possibilities of costume and wearable sculpture and translate the outcome of this into visual costume-based performances. She has a BA in Scenography from ‘De Theaterschool’, ‘Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten’ (2013) and a MA in ‘Costume Design for Performance’ from ‘London College of Fashion’, ‘University of the Arts London’ (2015).
Lorraine Smith is a dance artist and senior lecturer at Teesside University. Lorraine was the artistic director and choreographer of Silversmith Dance Theatre (2006-2014) and a member of the UK Arab dance troupe Al Zaytouna (2007-2014), touring contemporary productions in the UK and internationally. Lorraine graduated from the University College Chichester with a 1st Class Degree in Dance Studies, holds a MA in Choreography from TrinityLaban and a PGCHE (HEA Fellowship) from Teesside University. Her passions include devising dance theatre and costume performance, which inform her research into the impact of costume on the performing body, costume as somatic tool, performance pedagogy, identity and ‘otherness’.
Dance artist: Lorraine Smith. Costume designer: Daphne Karstens. Video recording / editing: Daphne Karstens