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PhD student: Charlotte Østergaard

As a designer, I consider costume to include wearable products that communicate something and iterative processes that simultaneously will be informed, influenced, and transformed by humans with their individual perspectives on making, wearing, performing, and watching non-human material, and by spatiality, and temporality. 

My artistic research derives from years of design practice where pre-set institutional structures and hierarchal positions have often defined my individual design process and any collaborative processes. In my practice, I confront the perception that the role of the designer is to serve a predetermined purpose by designing a visual expression, which implicitly means defining what a tailor produces and deciding what a performer wear. 

With the research, my ambition is to re-negotiate the role of the costume designer. With a more openminded and playful approach towards the role of the designer, I will explore how I can become the facilitator of heterogeneous co-creative costume processes between human participants and non-human materials. My intention is to open design processes, that I usually accomplish alone or semi-alone, by involving participants who, in more traditional settings, are excluded from the design process. Inversely, I will study how participants inform and transform my design process and artistic practice.

On a more fundamental level, I will investigate and challenge our (participants and my own) biased perceptions of disciplinary and hierarchical positions and perspectives to discuss and reflect upon potentials in and perspectives of what co-creative costume processes (and more generally co-creative theatre processes) can become. Hence, my ambition is to develop costume methods that contain interdisciplinary and inter-artistic perspectives.

At the level of practice, my ambitions are to develop and transform costume design processes into polyphonic co-creative performative workshops and/or events, called Costume Salons, that favour the multi-layered encounters of touch between human participants and non-human materials. The Costume Salons have four focal points: material sampling (sketching and making), fitting (fitting, dressing and wearing), conversation costume (prototyping and wearing) and co-habitation (to in-habit and to co-exist). 

In the frame of the Costume Salons, I will invite different numbers of participants to engage with me and others actively. In the process, participants will respond to me, the others, the Salon frame, and reflect on the setup, the interaction, and the specific salon theme. The ambition is that the participants become actual co-creators in co-creative processes. During the costume salons, my position varies between initiator, facilitator, and participant. Connected to each Salon, I will write, co-write and re-write statements I call ‘manifestos’ with the intention to democratize, liberate, create transparency and initiating dialogues and negotiations in the Costume Salon processes, and create transparency for my perspective and, at the same time, scrutinize my position as designer and researcher. 

Profile in research portal

Women in black dress holding a yellow textile art piece. Photo
Charlotte Østergaard  'Crafting material bodies - radical co-creation in the field of costume design’
colorful textile in a room