Final Performance Costume Design

After deciding on a performance for my final piece, I needed to choose a costume design. Within Pole GoPro Experiments and Untitled Collection, I used a normal pole kit – a crop top and shorts, as this is what I had at hand, and I did not think much of it. For the Pole Performance, I decided that I could not show off the branding that I had on these pieces of clothing, and so covered them with simple scraps of white cloth. Several comments of the performance included that about the cloth, and how it wasn’t tied in with the theme, unlike the presentation of everything else.
I also went plain with the more recent Silent Light Pole Videos [UV] and Silent Light Pole Videos [Strobe], however this was more out of necessity, especially with the use of the white clothing and UV light. Throughout the thought of a feminist performance, I created designs for a feminist performance costume which was based on the feminist clothing of 100 years ago. Although this was unique, it was somewhat predictable, and I wanted to do something that would shock the viewer, and make them slightly uncomfortable in the environment that I created.
Because of everything else that I want going on in the room, including that of projections and up to four speakers, I don’t want to overwhelm someone with an extravagant outfit. This is a juxtaposition to what you expect pole dancers to wear, and also the overwhelming elements within the room. I wanted to almost become invisible in the room, and decided that black would therefore be the most appropriate colour to wear. From here, I designed several plain designs, to determine what would work best with grip, and without looking like I am just about to strip. I wanted to highlight the feminist element through the choice of outfit, not degrade myself.
From here, I decided that the crop top and shorts would work best – I would not be worried about anything of mine showing, it gave me enough grip on the pole to complete moves, and I would be able to add other elements to showcase the feminism element.

I initially looked back at Designing a Feminist Pole Mat, for inspiration on how I wanted to alter the plain black. My concern with the words, is that they would not necessarily be clear within the performance, and would become colourful blurs. Especially with the lighting, there is the concern that there would not be enough light to see them either.
I then went back to look at Valie Export with Action Pants, where Export walks around with a gun and the crotch cut out of her leather pants – many were shocked by the crotch of the pants, especially considering the time that this was done, and her gender. A part of me wanted to take this shocking approach and utilise the female genitalia, primarily because it was unpredictable, and would be unnerving for those viewing the performance.

I decided on the final design on the right, using small nipples and fake hair on top of the black crop top and shorts. These are discrete enough that they will not be in your face, but obvious enough that you will be able to see them in the performance. I also decided on this, rather than the larger boobs or the vagina model, because it would seem like it is my own, and that I am showing intimate parts of my body, and yet I am protecting myself against my body becoming an object. I would particularly find it interesting if I were to do this performance in front of men, as I believe these elements would make it more uncomfortable for them. This uncomfortable sensation is what I want to create, as it is something that feminism is trying to break down; I want those watching to feel the same uneasiness and uncomfortable-ness that both women, and men, have to go through on a daily basis.

I cut up an old pair of leggings and a vest top for the base of my costume. These fitted better than if I had made them by hand. I tried a couple of techniques for the Merkin; the first was to stick wool on top of the fabric, and then split it. With this technique, the wool fell off and the Merkin quickly came apart. I then sewed the wool through, to create a large continual loop, then cutting it and splitting it. This way, there was a lot more to stop the wool coming through the fabric, as there was another piece of fabric protecting it the other side.

The boobs were measured against life-size breasts, so that the areola did not seem comically oversized. The nipples were stuffed, so that they would stay poking out, making them slightly more noticeable from all angles.
Overall, I found the costume to be sturdy and successful, and something that I would happily perform in. The wool was not coming out and the felt used was secure on the top. I would also be able to grip to the pole, ensuring that I would be able to perform for the whole of the allocated time.


Leave a Reply

Subscribe for the latest art updates in my newsletter