Material Agency. Collaborating With Microbes in Contemporary Costume Design.
Material knowledge is a fundamental part of a costume designer´s practice, yet artistic practice that interrogates biobased materials and incorporates systems knowledge as part of the performance-making is currently understudied. My recent MA thesis “Costume Matter. Exploring microorganisms, fungi and berries as biobased material in contemporary costume design” addressed parts of this gap by presenting biobased materials as viable material alternatives in contemporary costume design and by exploring ways to assimilate selected such materials into the complex processes of costume design and collaborative performance-making. Among the biobased materials explored was microbial cellulose. This presentation focuses on my personal artistic process of working with the selected cellulose-producing microbes, and reflects on how this experience affects my understanding of the agency of costume through materiality. The material explorations took place in context of professional work as costume designer on the contemporary dance performance Posthuman days (2018) and as participant of the ChemArts Summer School as part of my MA degree studies in Costume Design at Aalto University. This presentation is based on my MA thesis. As motivating force for my research is the hypothesis that experimental costume design processes where biobased materials are engaged enable the emergence of new aesthetics and methods; through that new modes of artistic expression and stage narratives emerge.
Costume designer and scenographer Ingvill Fossheim works with live performance and mediated projects. By exploring ways to interrogate biobased materials and to incorporate systems knowledge as part of the performance-making, she develops new ground for her artistic praxis and contributes to the critical discourse on materiality in the field more broadly. Fossheim is doctoral candidate at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture. She works and lives in Tromsø, Norway and Helsinki, Finland.
Posthuman days website:
MA thesis Costume matter. Exploring microorganisms, fungi and berries as biobased material in contemporary costume design:
Production credits Posthuman days
Costume design and microbial cellulose: Ingvill Fossheim
Choreography and direction: Jenni-Elina von Bagh
Light design: Ina Niemelä
Set and video design: Fabian Nyberg
Sound design and composition: Tom Lönnqvist
Dramaturgy: Otto Sandqvist
Performers: Jenna Broas, Karoliina Kauhanen, Anni Koskinen, Outi Markkula, Pinja Poropudas
Kindly supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Alfred Kordelin Foundation, Norsk- Finsk Kulturfond, RadArt Marked, Aalto University ChemArts, Aalto studios, ELO. Produced by Zodiak – Centre for New Dance and Jenni-Elina von Bagh. Premiered 18.October 2018 at Zodiak Stage, Helsinki