Listening through and with costume: A dialogical performance-making process

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding


In performance contexts we often perceive costume as visual expression and as something that servers something else. The objective of this presentation is to discuss costume’s performance-making potential. How can listening through and with costume become a performance-making strategy? With a few historical and examples from own research practice the ambition is to expand the notion of costumes as a scenic and world-making agent.

In Orientation Matters Sara Ahmed write that ‘bodies as well as objects shape though being orientated towards each other. An orientation that may be experienced as the cohabitation sharing of space’ (Ahmed, 2010:245). This suggest that it is through and with the costume (and it’s crafted materialities) that we, designer and performer, are orientated towards each other. Hence, it is by sharing and navigating between our different ways of being affected by observing and inhabiting costume that a potential shared or co-creative space occurs. Ahmed continues ‘if orientation affects what bodies do, then they also affect how space take shape around certain bodies’ (Ahmed, 2010:250). This indicates the way that we dialogically share our difference individual experiences will affect the way we co-inhabit the co-creative space. In otder to cultivate a co-creative culture indicates that I, the designer and researcher, have an ethical responsa-ability (Barad 2007) to listen to how a costume affects a performer with the awareness of that how a costume affects one performer doesn’t equal how another performer are affected. I propose that it is in the dialogical process of negotiating through and with the costume that we can co-explore and co-create a scenic ‘world’. A co-creative process where the costume ‘has the ability to instigate performance and tell a story in its own right’ (Marshall 2020:165). In performance-making process, in our openness and willingness to ‘make kin’ (Haraway 2016) with crafted materialities ¬costume offers us a co-creative space ‘to debate and navigate the world’s becomings’ (Pantouvaki et al. 2021, p. 202).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event15th NOFOD conference: Morning, relating. commanding. Choreographies for bodies, identities and ecologies. - The Danish National School of Performing Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 2022 Jul 52022 Jul 8


Conference15th NOFOD conference
Internet address

Bibliographical note

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Haraway, D. (1988), Situated knowledge: the science question in feminism and the privilege if partial perspective, Feminist Studies, 14(3), p. 575¬–599.
Haraway, D. (2016) Staying with the Trouble – making kin in the Chthulucene, Duke University Press.
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Listening Biennial
Marshall, Susan (2021), Insubordinate costume (phd thesis), Goldsmiths, University of London.
Pantouvaki, S. (2020), ‘Costume thinking’ as a strategy for critical thinking, Paper presentation at Critical Costume 2020 conference (online),
Schneider, L. & Zerfass, A. (2018), Polyphony in corporate and an organizational communications: exploring the roots and characteristic of a new paradigm, Communication management review, 3(2), p. 6–29.
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Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Performing Arts
  • Design

Artistic work

  • Performance
  • Design

Free keywords

  • Costume design
  • Crafting
  • Co-wearing
  • Artistic research
  • Keynote
  • Co-creation


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