Clothes for Living and Dying brings together photographs and video works exploring the role that clothing plays in two rites of passage, graduations and funerals, in Kern’s ancestral homeland of Croatia/Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Graduation Dresses depicts young women who have recently graduated from secondary schools in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kern photographed the young women in their homes wearing dresses made by her mother, a professional seamstress. Their dresses are based on images supplied by the young women, found in fashion magazines and on the internet, showing celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Keira Knightly dressed for the red carpet. Two short video works, Coffee/Kafa and Desa reveal the intimate setting of her mother’s home business and the conversations between the women whilst getting their clothes made.
Clothes for Death was inspired by the artist hearing of a relatively unknown custom amongst a number of Croatian and Bosnian-Herzegovinian women, who prepare clothes in which they wish to be buried. Deeply moved, Kern met and photographed these women in their homes with their chosen clothes laid out on display. Her photographs offer an insight into the lives of women whose identities have been shaped by turbulent historical, political and cultural currents.
A Touring Exhibition from the University of Hertfordshire Galleries
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