Nominee Threshold Award Autonomous Practices
Meet Welmoed Bosch! Welmoed was nominated for the 2021 Threshold Award Autonomous Practices with her graduation project ‘Dressing the Body’. In this interview, Welmoed tells us about her work and future plans.
Can you tell us a bit about your graduation project and how it came about?
In the Autumn of 2018, I bought a pair of vintage leather gloves at a flea market in Rotterdam. Something about the way they were made struck me, as they were constructed of many different panels that fold around and into the different slopes and creases of its wearer's hands. As a result of this intricate design, the glove strongly resembles a real human hand. I decided to take the gloves apart and as I ripped it open seam by seam, I could see this human shape unfold before me. I could not sleep that night, as the glove sparked in me a strong fascination for the way the human is reflected in clothing.
Most contemporary clothing is based on metric patterns: two-dimensional abstractions of the living, breathing body. There is something eerie about this: the clothing we wear is not based on our actual bodies but on the abstraction of our bodies, that is the pattern. This is what I addressed in my graduation project called ‘Dressing the Body’. I developed a method of patternmaking that takes the concrete physical body as its foundation, rather than its mathematical abstraction in the pattern. Using this method, I created a series of garments based on the bodies of real people.
Which themes or societal concerns are you addressing in your work? How?
Dressing the body is an important cultural practice in all human cultures. Our understanding of our bodies is framed by our experience of the body in its dressed state. Therefore, the way we dress our bodies is both symptomatic of and responsible for the way we think about and perceive bodies. Our perception of our actual bodies can be formed based on the abstracted version of our bodies which are captured in the pattern.
This relates to the way in which a pre-defined concept or identity can inform our understanding of the world, before we even engage with the world itself. The living, breathing body is much more than its mathematical approximation in pattern, yet when designing clothing we are referring to the abstracted body in pattern, rather than the concrete physical body. In itself, a model is not necessarily problematic. But there are some dangers in the abstraction of the world, especially when applied to ourselves. When the way we come to understand things is not based on their concrete presence but on a pre-defined, simplified definition of them, we are in danger of losing a wealth of nuance, diversity, complexity and dimension.
What will you be working on in the near future? What are your next steps?
Presenting this work for my graduation in no means feels like the project is finished. I see many opportunities to further develop this project, for example in a Master's or during a residency. My first concrete step is to develop a pilot to place the method I developed in a commercial context. As a proof of concept, I am planning a project called ‘Torso’. In this I am creating a series of T-shirts based on different bodies. Rather than having a size range, I would have different T-shirts with different shapes and lines. Would it be possible to not have sizing at all, but to let a piece of clothing simply have the shapes and measurements it has? Right now I am reaching out to places to sell this and am looking for funding to get this pilot started. Furthermore, I am always looking out for ways to use the infrastructures offered by the fashion industry and the art world to develop, present and sell my work.
To read more about Welmoed’s work, pay a visit to her Graduation Catalogue Page. Furthermore, her journey can be followed on Instagram and her Website. The winner of the Threshold Award Autonomous Practices will be announced during a festive ceremony as part of the Graduation Show. Keep an eye on our Graduation Show page for more information.