My master project "Today I am .." is a research of the concept of changeability, variability and identity.
The written examination of these topics started with a disguise experiment in public. I have turned from a women into a man named Hannes. Disguise is not to be isolated from the definition of fashion and not to be labeled as reality-free children's play. Fashion as a practice is also disguise, because it creates identities and revolves around self-staging, which would otherwise not be visible. According to my definition, disguise is a transformation practice, so fashion is also driven by transformation. It is hardly possible to create new pictures in fashion with cut, shape or material. Instead, the new is created with a different usage of associations and by a changed way of handling the already existing. "The new as an indication of fashion, as the label that can adhere to clothing, is immaterial and can be created with the help of staging strategies in the fashion show." (Kühl, 2015, p.51) "The innovation is not that something is revealed, what is hidden, but that the value of what has always been seen is transformed" (Groys, 1992, o.S.). Transformation results in something else which does not originate from the Nothing, but already contains the starting components. Conversion is reversible. This methodology was my starting point for my practical work.
The collection of twelve outfits consists of thirty identical men's shirts. The gray men's shirt, as the everyday thing, which is already there, as a product of the consensus of good taste is my starting material. I bought the grey shirt online, which is the easiest and typical way of our time to connect with fashion. The converted and reused shirts will emerge into new outfits and presenting them in the show creates fashion. The draping, brought on the body only by buttoning and knotting, are not far from playful disguise, which is reversible. The show is over and the gray unbuttoned and unknotted shirts can be put back in the box and sent back. The gray men's shirt is my material, draping my technique, converting my design principle and the product is the idea in itself. I solve no problem but ask questions. I do not want to sell anything, but to convey an idea. As with my transformation into a man, I take what is there without creating something material new and yet something new is created. “A shirt is a shirt, is not a shirt.” Fashion is my medium to transport an idea, to visualize an experiment and to make it experienceable. My purpose was to show another way of fashion, of dealing with fashion, but then I realized that fashion was exactly this: a cultural practice.
The written examination of the project "Today I am..." started with a disguise experiment in public. With the aid of clothes, make-up, beard hair, a sock in the pants and bound breasts, I have turned from a women into a man named Hannes, who went to a party. It was only one of the possible extremes to test my identity limits. Accompanying questions were: “How far is the concept of identity of a person extensible?”, “Is Hannes identical to Helene?” Naturalness, everyday roles, and masquerade are concepts that I have explored through this self experiment by incorporating my environment. These are questions which are also relevant in the context of fashion. The result is a qualitative field research, which shows an individual insight instead of the average. I can never be with Hannes in one room at the same time, and yet I am always Hannes, because Hannes has originate from Helene. The memory of my other version and the fact that it once existed, makes it existent every day, just like other everyday roles of ourselves always exist and never disappear.
realisation: Helene Werner
photography: Robert Raithel