Blackout Festival, curated by Shazeb Arif Shaikh, is a an art festival that has been running for several years in Mumbai and had one instance in Basel. Shazeb’s approach to curating is wonderfully experimental, and the festival in Basel focused on blurring the distinction between artist and audience, as well as bringing the gallery into the public square.
Released in 2013, Open Fit was an open source clothing project with Kyle McDonald that explored protoyping as performance. In 2015, Shazeb invited me to bring Open Fit to Basel, and paired my work with a group of students from the fashion program at FHNW in Basel. The final result was a multi-step process.
First, Open Fit was presented in the gallery, as a sort of ongoing happening. I set up a scanner that automatically took body measurements, and then created a version of the pattern-making software that allowed audience members to adjust the patterns of the pants into whimsical shapes. These were projected onto fabric and collaboratively cut and sewn in the gallery. Later, audience members in the gallery were invited to draw designs on the pants with charcoal.
Separately, the fashion students designed shirts with hidden pockets full of pigment. Collaboratively, we created a performance that transformed the garments and blended the charcoal with the pigment, resulting in Smudge.
Maria cutting out pants generated by Open Fit software
Maria trying them on
A participant drawing on the pants in the gallery
Models before performance...
A clip of the performance
Smudge, Blackout Basel, 2015