Ethical dilemmas of listening through and with costume.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review


‘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?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov 17
EventCritical Costume : connections - Allto University, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 2022 Nov 172022 Nov 20


ConferenceCritical Costume
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Donna Haraway (2017), Staying with the Trouble – Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Durham and London: Duke University Press.
Eva Skærbæk (2009), Leaving Home? The ‘worlds’ of knowledge, love and power, In Bizzini, S.C. & Malabotta, M.R. (Eds.), Teaching Subjectivity –Travelling Selves for feminist pedagogy, Stockholm: Centre for Gender Studies, Stockholm University, p. 46–67.
Karen Barad (2007), Meeting the universe halfway – quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning, Duke University Press.
Sara Ahmed (2006), Queer Phenomenology – orientations, objects, others, Duke University Press, Place: Durham and London.
Tim Ingold (2016), On human correspondence, Journal of the royal anthropological institute (N.S.), 23(1), Royal Anthropological Institute, p. 9-27.
The Listening Biennale,
Vivianne Bozalek & Michalinos Zembylas (2017), Towards a response-able pedagogy across higher education institution on post-apartheid South Africa: An ethico-political analysis, Education as change, 21(2), p. 62–85.

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Performing Arts

Artistic work

  • Performance
  • Text

Free keywords

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


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