The project Jenny deals with the philosophies and mythologies of the human and angelic, which are intertwined with my personal memory of a close relative.
Garments, Textiles and Accessories.
The project refers to the memories of a close family member, Jenny, which I never knew because she passed away before I was born. The memory was built up through my childhood. It sparked from stories of my aunt speaking about heaven and descriptions of Jenny as an angel living somewhere above the clouds. My image was shaped by Jenny's beautiful belongings and exotic places linked to her early life. We shared the same initial - J, which was sewn on all the beautiful garments, engraved onto jewellery pieces or shaped into a golden brooch, all of which became mine through time. As a child, I envisioned her as a graceful, divine presence adorned in gorgeous attires living above, in the clouds. As I grew older, I realized she was cerebrally and physically impaired. She died in her 19th year of age.
This project is dedicated to her.
The research started with the human and angelic matter, the philosophies and mythologies behind them. The key question for me was: "What is Jenny / are angels made of?" Angels turned out to be very interesting creatures.
The origins of the angelic go back to prehistory. Then, the sky and the floating celestial bodies were an enigma to men, and birds were the sole connection between them and the sky that they could understand. For many peoples, birds were thought to be messengers and bringers of dead souls to the other side (Altamira, Lascaux). This is where the word angel originates (angelos means messenger or harbinger in ancient Greek) and this is where their most recognizable trait originates from: wings/feathers.
As for their matter, we come across expressions like ethereal beings or beings with ethereal bodies in literature and Christian texts.
What is ether? The concept has moved from a synonym for the sky and its divinity in Ancient Greece to Plato’s “fifth celestial element”, later named as “Aether” by Aristotle. He claims that metaphysical beings are star movers: every being of this kind is allegedly responsible for the movement of one star. These creatures work as star movers in the sky and are therefore part of it and made of ether. Proculus is the first to use the term “angelic” (aggelikos) and “angel” (aggelos) in reference to Plato’s metaphysical creatures. Descriptions of ether become more and more material: from the Fludd’s definition of ether as a matter subtler than air, through the Christian idea of angels as ethereal, invisible beings – except when they assume an illusive image, mostly in the shape of a human with wings –, to the representation of ether by the incense during masses.
TRANSFERING THE RESEARCH INTO THE GARMENT
The illusion that ether creates every time it takes its “own” shape was transferred into the garment. When we see angles with their physical traits, they are made of only one substance: ether. A feather is not a feather, it only looks like one. Hair is not hair. While the matter stays the same, the form changes. What we have here is an illusion of matter through the form. By transferring angelic and human elements (feathers, hair) into clothing, this idea was brought into the fabric. Even if they look real, they are not. With the help of screen printing, I printed the feathers on chiffon, which adds volume to the already shredded threads and at the same time allows transparency and lightness. As a counterweight to light feathers, big crochet stitches were made with industrial hemp fibres that as such look like hair and also feel heavy and massive. This creates a contrast between light and heavy, sacred and profane, heavenly and human.
TRANSFERING THE MEMORY INTO GARMENT PATTERNS
I created the pattern parts for clothes by drawing in a sketchbook with my eyes closed; I tried to create my ideal image of a girl. When I opened my eyes, what I found before me was a deformed image. With the help of a projector, I transferred the created forms onto the clothing and started to shape them on the dummy. This way, a form, a silhouette was formed.
The upper part of the shoes is made of leather and is in the form of sandals (for some people, a substitute for the body of Immortals, and also a means of transportation through air and a tool of immortality). Platforms are made of two halves of a tree trunk that together make a whole when standing with one foot next to the other. The trunk, representing the tree, symbolizes life and a perpetual relation between the sky and the earth, thus wrapping up the story