Workshop # 5 In Relations

The workshop took place from Monday August 16th till Friday August 27th 2021 at Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHIO), Oslo, Norway

Workshop # 5 In Relations, was a workshop in which four costume designers were provided with conditions to create performances starting from their garments or other materials. The four desginers were Fredrik Floen, Charlotte Østergaard, Zofia Jakubiec and Snezana Pesic.

LINK TO VIDEO DOCUMENTATION (26 minutes):  Please double-click at the video to enter full screen

Designers: Fredrik Floen, Charlotte Østergaard, Zofia Jakubiec and Snezana Pesic.

Performers/ creative collaborators: Lydia Hann, Katja Henriksen Schia, Victor Amel Olivares Pedersen, Daniel Frikstad, Debora Stysova and Simon Asencio, Jonathan Ibsen, Fredrik Petrov, Kjersti Stenby, Anna Ladegaard

Light design: Ingeborg Straxsrud Olerud and Kaja Glenne Lund

Interviewer: Sodja Lotker and Christina Lindgren

Research supervisors: Knut Ove Arntzen, Rachel Hann, Sodja Lotker and Christina Lindgren

Research assistance: Arnt Robert Ledanger and Debora Styvsova

Production management: Camilla Svingen/ Syv Mil AS

Film recording and editing: Vibeke Heide/ Sentimeter Film

Recorded at Oslo National Academy of the Arts

Photo of projects: Espen Tollefsen






I wanted to look at one of the purest forms of costuming: the carnival. For Mikhail Bakhtin, carnivalization has a long and rich historical foundation in the genre of ancient Menippean satire. In this satire, the three planes of heaven (Olympus), the underworld (Hades), and the earth are treated with the logic and activity of carnival. For example, earthly differences dissolve in the underworld; emperors lose their crowns and meet on equal terms with beggars. This intentional ambiguity allows the seeds of the “polyphonic” novel, in which narratological and character voices are set free to speak subversively or shockingly, but without the lyricist going between character and reader. 

My starting point for this research was the totentanz. The dance to / with death that had its origins in poetry from the end of the 13th century that combined the essential ideas of the inevitability and impartiality of death. I mixed in the idea of the grotesque body and seeing costumes as a medium, technology, tools and extension as in the view of Marshall McLuhan.

It is not just about how we affect and build tools, but also just as much about how the tools affect us and become an extension of us. 

Photo NN + screenshot from vide by Vibeke Heide



Title: Conversation Costume

The centre of the research Conversation Costume was an investigation of co-creational costume process. An important starting point for the research was verbal and non-verbal conversations. One aspect of the conversation was the practice of listening, for example, sensing the costume ‘things’, ourselves, each other, and the space as costume-body-space-improvisations. Another aspect of the conversations was daily ‘dialogues’ where we, for example, shared our different experiences, perspectives, including discussing, and planning the next explorations.

In the rehearsal process, we explored ways of entangling with the costume ‘things’ and with the space by teeing the costume ‘things’ together, wearing and moving with or being moved by them individually and collaboratively. Or said in other words, the costume ‘things’ acted as agential vehicles for our co-creational conversational (verbal and non-verbal) process and led us to build a common vocabulary. 

My ambition was not to produce a work-in-process-performance but to investigate co-creational-work-in-process-potentials-or-fabulations. Daring to continue the process after finding one potential performance format (the work-in-progress-participatory-showing) was a way of producing other potentials or fabulations. In two weeks, we managed to produce (among many other things) two quite different but connected performance potential which I hadn’t imagined beforehand. 

Photo Espen Tollefsen



This project explores possibilities of costumes for movement and the moving body. The project uses dancers´ perception and imagination on stage in order to create costume design. During Costume Agency Workshop I explored one garment made for three, connected dancers. The design created certain choreographic rules for the dancers as the costume decides their placement, distance from each other and movement range. Dancers limited each other, their three bodies had connected kinespheres, each movement had a consequence somewhere else. I was interested in finding right movement qualities of the costume, possible configurations of three bodies, possibilities of moving in space together. I wanted to avoid helplessnes of conected bodies, find their strenght together. Further I wanted to explore shapes, desolve humen silluethes and find different possible landscapes through the movement. I experimented also with different music background as the costume is silent. During the research we found out that this costume moves mostly slow motion, it requaires total body awarness and listening, it sharpens senses. Three bodies are visible, but anonymous in the costume covered by fabric complitely. Except for gender we cannot see any details. The fabric doesn’t bring any associations. This costume is like a second skin, dancers and the garment become one thing. 

Photo Espen Tollefsen



Title: Performing Modified Bodies

The Modified Body costumes address the burgeoning popularity of cosmetic surgery and a contemporary fashion silhouette emerging from corporal modifications. The garments are made of soft leather, plastic, and silicone; stretched, stitched, and formed in the same way that skin is sculpted in plastic surgery.

The visceral, organic quality of the costumes is one of the most important features of the design and research. Each costume’s materiality carries a specific agentic value for both performer and observer. It became my imperative to establish an atmosphere that allows the audience to fully experience the details of these costumes in a larger performance space.  Intimacy with the costumes was developed through the introduction of a live-feed camera (“technological eye”) that highlights costume details, the establishment of a thrust (horseshoe) configuration of the audience seating and allowing the audience to make contact with the costumes worn by performers. Furthermore, placed on an improvised clothing rack as a wardrobe of skin, the costumes also acted as props and set dressing. Their materiality significantly dictated space configuration, performance, incorporated technologies and other scenographic elements. 

Photo Espen Tollefsen


About the method in this research workshop 

Designers were selected through an open call with deadline January 6th 2020 (joined with call Critical Costume 2020 Conference and Exhibition). Each participant brought garments and ideas that they wanted to try out in the workshop. Each designer was provided with:

  • Individually 7 sessions x 3 hours daily, totally 21 hours with two dancers
  • All workshop participants met for feedback and brainstorming sessions to help each other think and create 2 x 6 hours, totally 12 hours
  • Individual tutorials with the research team
  • Light design by a light designer
  • Access to a performance space, in addition to access to light, sound and stage equipment
  • Photo and video recording of the performance on the final day

Project of Snezana Pesic supported by Canada Coucil for the Arts

December 31, 2021
Written by christinasodja

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