People are just beginning to discover the richness of our planet's biodiversity, and with it the value of each individual species within our ecosystem. At the same time, this biodiversity is shrinking at a great rate. How can we break out of our anthropocentric worldview and learn to feel more empathy for the other species on the planet? Can we train ourselves to see the world from a non-human perspective by wrapping ourselves in pink velvet and becoming an endangered pink velvet worm, for example?
The biodiversity costume lab at DDW
During Dutch Design Week we are hosting an open costume lab where we invite fashion designers, artists and you too, to make costumes of amazing species from our ecosystem. For a whole week there is room for experiment and design research to mimic various species in fabric and other (sustainable) materials. We are also hosting an ongoing program of master classes, workshops, lectures and exhibitions around bio-diversity and design.
A costume made from a mushroom? A mask with the scent of Dahlias, or face paints as a water bear? The craziest/most beautiful/original costumes and techniques that we see this week, are translated into instructables, which we are publishing in a DIY-guide for carnival 2022, where the project continues...
Originally, carnival was designed to unlearn the social structures and especially the hierarchies of society. By using masks and outfits to empathize with another persona, we can break existing rules, structures and beliefs.
With Inhuman Carnival, we explore adding a new layer to this large-scale escapism. can you actively advocate for biodiversity and grow your understanding of non-human beings while you party? We believe that empathizing with a species and making a costume is a good starting point to become more aware of a large abstract problem, such as the loss of biodiversity.
Our ultimate goal is to "hack" Carnival 2022 with as many biodiversity costumes as possible. We want to activate a large audience to dress up as an 'inhuman species' during the party. The DIY guide with instructables that is made during DDW is the starting point for this.
Inhuman Carnival at Dutch Design Week
October 17th through 22th, 2021
Inhuman Carnival at Dutch Design Week is organized in collaboration with Baltan Laboratories.
Open Costume Lab
In our Open Costume Lab, fashion designers as well as participants of all ages created impressive costumes inspired by a variety of species from our ecosystem. In this creative open space, we provided all the fabrics, materials and resources as well as guidance and inspiration, in hopes of not only ending up with a bunch of amazing inhuman costumes, masks and accessories, but also fostering curiosity about what it is like to be in the skin of another being. Can we shed our anthropocentric worldview through dressing up as different species?
Species Costume Library
Our Species Costume Library exhibited works from more than 20 fashion designers and artists, all around the theme of biodiversity and the non-human other. It served as a locus of inspiration for creating inhuman costumes, as well as a space for contemplating our relation to these different species. It contained life-sized costumes, as well as accessories, prints and video installations.
The web-based artwork extinction-claims.com by conceptual artist Paolo Cirio took on a physical presence during Dutch Design Week. In Extinction Claims, we gave a voice to the numerous species that have been negatively affected by fossil fuel emissions from major oil, gas, and carbon companies. The project seeks to claim financial compensation from these companies on behalf of the various endangered species and visitors could sign a petition to stand up for them.
House Plant in Residence
Amongst the various performances that took place during Inhuman Carnaval at Dutch Design Week was that of visual and performance artist Jesse Asselman, titled House Plant in Residence. In an immersive, transformative and almost meditative state, and with the help of a copious amount of body paint and makeup, Jesse fully becomes an indoor plant that decorated Natlab at various moments during the week.
Live Tufting Landscapes
For a whole week, as part of Inhuman Carnaval, we got to witness textile artist Nadie Borggreve tufting in real time. Her tufting creations resemble Gothic windows and are deeply rooted in nature, transporting us into a multitude of natural landscapes. This tufting was a work-in-progress so every day the viewers could see and experience something new and different.
Sensory and spatial artist Iris Woutera gave a visually stunning opening to the Inhuman Carnaval program with her performance titled Deform. In Deform, she engulfed herself in a material designed by a combination of hard (plastic) and stretch (textile) which, in turn, responds to her movement. The organic flow refers to forms in nature, such as plants, fish or a gently swaying sea anemone.
Our program included diverse workshops that invited everyone to experiment with fashion design in order to make their own biodiversity-inspired creations. The day-long immersive workshop Bugs & Buds Bootcamp, led by fashion designer Conny Groenewegen, focused on costume design that does not merely resemble another species but also recreates the movement and specific needs of that species, giving it an empathetic dimension. Participants were encouraged to think and imagine the perspective of the plant or insect, to find a connection with the chosen organism and establish a relationship with it by working through various perspectives, patterns, and directions.
Odorama - Smelling Species
In this edition of Odorama, an ongoing Mediamatic lecture program around smell, speakers approached the olfactory in relation to other species. Some of the topics we talked about were; How can our noses help us engage with other species? Do other species use smell the same way as humans do? What about the aromas that animals and other species release to mark their territory? The audience also got to smell the elephant smells created by perfume artist Frank Bloem.
Open Air Gentle Disco
Our Gentle Disco moved to Eindhoven for Dutch Design Week! We put our white socks on and showed our moves on the mycelium dance floor, dancing to the tunes of DJ Huppeldepup. By dancing on top of the mycelium blocks, we helped Arne with the building of pigeon towers, an ongoing experiment to build with living mycelium waste from oyster mushroom farms. During his research, Arne discovered that dancing on top of the blocks in order to press them is quite an effective method, and also a great opportunity for some dancing fun!
Drinks at Dusk
During Dutch Design Week, we had daily presentations by various artists at sundown, along with drinks. The speakers were all artists that participated in the Inhuman Carnaval program and they got to share their thoughts on how their practice relates to the theme of celebrating biodiversity through dressing up, or through fashion in general. The artists that joined us for Drinks at Dusk are Nadie Borggreve, Jesse Asselman, Lennart Vader, Conny Groenewegen and Desirée Hammen.
Inhuman Carnaval Party
After an intense week of costume-making, we got to show off our inhuman outfits at the Inhuman Carnaval Party. For one night, we let go of our human identities and transformed into literal party animals, dancing to filthy beats by DJ Wannabeastar and Shirley Hart. There was also free beer from Oedipus Brewery for all the non-humans!