With DAS KLEID, we are pleased to announce an interdisciplinary, intercultural art project by Elisabeth Masé, in which a part of the gallery will become an embroidery workshop.
DAS KLEID includes a series of paintings, a participatory performance, handicrafts, a film and photographs. All these disciplines are equally important. The dress which is at the heart of the project is a prototypical, timeless, simple linen dress designed by Elisabeth Masé. If clothing is usually communication which makes nonverbal cultural statements or acts as a status symbol, this dress is a blank screen.
In the series of paintings, "Die Quelle", standing at the starting point of the project, Masé shows us an unvarying composition of a woman in three-quarter view, wearing this original dress, against a neutral background. But through a different choice of colours and brushwork, varying the design and invoking a number of art historic styles, the dress and with it its wearer change. On some pictures this has a cheerful, childlike, almost coquettish effect, while on others she seems fearful, vulnerable or unapproachable. Because her face is not shown, the gesture made by the clasped hands is unclear, it is only the dress that conveys the mood and the expression. A selection of paintings will be on display in the gallery.
Besides the paintings, the workshop that takes place every Sunday afternoon is a central point of the project. Women will embroider the simple dress, in accordance with the traditional division of roles in different cultures. There are women from different cultural backgrounds and of different ages, women from Berlin and women who have had to flee from their homelands, housewives and academics, women trained in handicrafts and women with hardly any experience of manual work, working together and with no instructions on this dress. All the women wear the same red dress, to level out their origin and status. Each of them can take equal part. With the uniform red thread they will work together, each according to her own aesthetic feelings and her own manual skills, to create the dress. Each woman chooses for herself whether to use classical embroidery techniques or find new forms, to work in the abstract or make an image. She will decide whether to follow traditional patterns, tell her own story or express dreams of the future. What has already been embroidered may be completed, responded to or even taken over. In this way embroidery becomes a means of communication between women with different native languages. Visitors to the gallery are also invited to join the women on these six dates and to embroider a part of the dress
A film made on the first joint embroidery afternoon documents the project and the emergence of the dress, but also goes further to broach the issue of the open outcome of fate: do the wishes expressed by the embroiderers in the film come true, is the world really so open to the young woman in the linen dress as the blue sky of her new Berlin home promises? What future awaits the children who sing a verse of the song "Maikäfer flieg" (May bug fly) in Arabic and in German?
After the dress is finished, a photography studio will be set up in the gallery. Each woman will be photographed in the dress that carries the history of each of these women and has become a piece of shared history.