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Malmö Theatre Academy, Doctoral student, Charlotte Østergaard

Charlotte Østergaard


Malmö Theatre Academy, Doctoral student, Charlotte Østergaard

Ethical dilemmas of listening through and with costume.


  • Charlotte Østergaard

Summary, in English

‘Responsibility begins from the acknowledgement that we are all part of the world. And that we cannot distance ourselves from it or assume a stance of innocence in our relationship with others’ (Bozalek & Zembylas 2017, 68).
In this paper I will discuss the ethical dilemmas of listening through and with costume and the ambiguity of temporal and spatial collaborative entanglements. As a costume designer and researcher, I constantly face ethical dilemmas when I invite participants to co-investigate potential connections through and with costume. Barad writes that ‘ethics is about mattering, about taking account of the entangled materializations of which we are part, including new configurations, new subjectivities, new possibilities––even the smallest matters’ (Barad 2007, 384). Hence, as researcher I must embrace the messiness and ethical dilemmas that are part of the co-creative process and learn to listen ‘in non-judgmental ways’ (Bozalek & Zembylas 2017, 75). I need to be aware of how I act, and I must be responsible for how my actions resonate acknowledging that we, my co-creators and myself, are interdependent in the co-creative process. It is therefore necessary to put aside my personal perspectives and assumptions in order to nurture a space where the entanglements of co-creators can flourish and create new possibilities. The designer's ethical dilemmas are also the ambiguity of collaboration, in the sense that, beforehand, I can never know how my designs affects others. Skærbæk suggests that through dialogue, knowledge arises between gendered embodied human beings as a co-creational process (Skærbæk 2009, 63–64). Through listening to my co-creators, I gain knowledge of how my design affects them. Through listening we can co-explore how and if we connect. Collective embodied listening and/or polyphonic embodied dialogues are demanding and also quite ambiguous in the sense that listening is affirmative as well as critical. How do I and we listen carefully?


  • Lärare (Teaterhögskolan)








  • Performing Arts


  • co-creation
  • hosting
  • co-creative processes
  • co-costuming
  • Costumed perfomance
  • listening
  • material-discursive listening
  • material-discursive practice

Conference name

Critical Costume

Conference date

2022-11-17 - 2022-11-20

Conference place

Helsinki, Finland




  • Crafting material bodies - ethical dilemmas of co-creative costume processes