Critical Costume 2020: COSTUME AGENCY

Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHIO), Norway

Workshops: 10-21 August 2020

Conference and Exhibition: 21 – 23 August 2020


“The veil is music because it is the artifice through which a body extends itself to engender forms into which it disappears.”

Jacques Rancière


In his essay the Dance of Light (2011) about Loie Fuller’s innovative dance practice, and poet Stéphane Mallarmé’s infatuation with it, Jacques Rancière gives special focus to the role of dress in a redefinition of avant-garde art. Following Mallarmé, Rancière calls the dress a veil, in order to uncover its potential and says that “(t)he veil is not only an artifice that enables one to imitate all sorts of forms. It also displays the potential of a body by hiding it. It is the supplement that the body gives itself to change its form and its function.” Here the dress of the dancer enables her to disappear, it enables the body to be dislocated and to change. This is why the ‘veil’ is the ‘music’. It is an agent that provides new realities of the body to emerge; it performs.


A garment in contemporary performance goes even beyond an agent activating abstract abilities of presence of the body on stage. Costume interacts with the other performance elements in extremely complex ways. It is a carrier of stories, executor of political activism, it becomes an embodiment of conceptual thinking, a critical questioning. Costume does not only perform via the body; it extends to space, landscape, and audience. It is an actor in itself. Costume is communication and communicated, it is a tool for research, it dances phenomenologically, it affects us kinesthetically. It is an agent. It is a force field. Costume performs. It does things. And the costume designer becomes director, thinker, researcher and shaman – constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing realities, different ways of being, into the ‘unthinkable’.


Critical Costume 2020 will focus on the agency of costume in performance, costume as the main performer and the costume designer as the initiator of performance. Following Costume Agency, a three-year artistic research project by Christina Lindgren (KHIO, Oslo) and Sodja Lotker (DAMU, Prague), Critical Costume 2020 will explore different ways in which costume performs, different genres and formats it initiates, but also specific dramaturgical strategies that are ingrained in costume, and are probably yet to be used to their full potential.


Critical Costume 2020 (CC 2020) at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHIO) consists of workshops, a conference, and an art exhibition:


CC2020 WORKSHOPS: August 10 – 21, 2020. Within four parallel workshops over the course of two weeks, designers and artists will have an opportunity to develop a performance from their already existing costumes and objects with local performers provided by the organizers. Each workshop will include rehearsals, dramaturgical consultations and group feedback sessions. The last day will offer a public presentation of workshop findings for the participants at Critical Costume 2020 Conference and Exhibition.


CC2020 CONFERENCE: August 21 – 23, 2020. CC2020 CONFERENCE will comprise  scholarly and artistic presentations on current projects and/ or research.


CC2020 EXHIBITION: August 21 – 23, 2020. CC2020 EXHIBITION will present artworks that focus on how costume shapes performance, where the costume initiates or is one of the main initiators of the performance.



Prof. Christina Lindgren, Oslo National Academy of the Arts and

Dr. Sodja Lotker, Prague Academy of the Arts



Prof. Yuka Oyama PhD, Academy of Design & Craft University of Gothenburg



Camila Svingen, Oslo National Academy of the Arts



All delegates attending this 3-day event will need to a pay a registration fee, which will include catering. Significant discounts will be available for postgraduate researchers and independent artists. There will also be a 1-day registration option available. Each participant is responsible for their travel and boarding expenses.


The event language is English.