A new series of classes, a new teacher. We introduce ourselves by telling her and the group what book we are reading at the moment. I am currently reading a biography of Diane de Poitiers (mistress of Henri II) and Catherine d'Medici (The Serpent and the Moon). The way I describe the book makes it sound like it's a romantic novel and I feel stupid that I wasn't able to convey to the class that I am reading a well written research about court life in the 17th century. It is so inspiring to read about femininity, power, politics, freedom, war, etc. While reading I feel an enormous need to explore the images that come up in my head. Of course I don't give in to this need, but at least I have made notes about the most striking things for me, like noble women wearing black velvet masks when they would go riding, the use of symbols and letters and colors to mark the rein of the king (and his mistress). The need to identify oneself with gods and goddesses of Greek mythologies, the ongoing traveling from castle to castle, the rebuilding of old and new properties, the royal children that were 'kept' in special castles, away from the parents, with their own household staff, the marrying off of princesses, often young children, to form alliances, sending them off to foreign countries to be raised there without their parents, to rivalry between heirs... More than enough to keep me busy for a long time...
Anyway, today we talk about design. Teacher explains that at Rietveld we do research, and try to find solutions. We look at form, object and image. A lot of time is spent discussing the work. An assignment is a motivation to start the research. It's all about an authentic research process. We are trying to communicate with form and research different point-of-views. At Rietveld we work unconsciously and we evaluate consciously.
Our first assignment is to make a portable object that connects moving body parts. The material is paper. Research of the material is part of the assignment.
With every assignment, I try to make a corset. I have a thing with corsets. I like the lines of an 18th century one, the way the breasts bulk out of the top. The way they form the torso and force a posture. But also the support they provide. I am intrigued by breathing, hyperventilation, breathing as a technique to deal with pain both physical and mental. A corset makes breathing more difficult. So the movement I want to research is the expanding ribcage in a hard corset. I make some drawings first, but teacher doesn't like that. "Why make something you have already drawn?" she says. Okay, whatever, I'll start making it right away. With carton boxes and elastic bands I make an 18th century look-alike corset. But I get bored. This apparently is not what I want to make. I want to make something fragile. Something that comes from within. So I wet big sheets of paper and feel them disintegrate in my hands. That's the fragility I am looking for. If I would wear this paper I wouldn't be able to breathe freely either, because the paper would tear. So I drape the paper on a torso, glue it a little here and there. And that's it. It's nothing more than that. We discuss it in the group, everybody seems to understand, and afterward I throw it in the garbage bin. Research done, result satisfying.
Part two. At home. A continuation of the assignment. This time I work small and quick. With one piece of toilet paper and some special glue I make a tiny camisole. The glue makes it look wet and transparent and fragile. With the inside of the toilet paper roll I try to make the hard corset. Teacher gives a good evaluation, "toilet paper has become something new, it's not toilet paper anymore." The hard corset is not there yet. So have to keep working on that. Or not.