With my work, I do not seek to delve into socio-political issues as a starting point. I try to keep meaning as open-ended as possible, both as an acknowledgment of my own inability to ‘define’ what I see, and an understanding that reductive analysis is boring and over-determined. I am aware that through my projects, I am creating an aesthetic object that I want to be able to stand on its own, without the need to be seen in conjunction with other images. I want it to reveal its meaning over a long period of time, both in form and content. It might be that the content is critical of policies that traverse our bodies, but I would be disappointed if my work were reducible to only one of those things. The world is too elusive to be fixed in a photograph. Images have to create their own world, autonomous if possible. The issues that the images raise are part of their content. The fact that there may be more questions than answers in them should surprise no one since the strategies employed in their creation are too mutable to be attributed to them as the final result.
Wax dress – Detail
Courtesy of the artist
Wax dress – Detail
Courtesy of the artist
That’s what I wanted to do in Condollence, my latest work. I sought to focus in an excessive and dramatic way that was never really hidden. Condollence is an aesthetic imagination that uses the materiality of wax and textile to build a fictional body through the making of garments. The clothes are made from transparent fabrics and then dipped in wax, creating a surface that clings lightly to the textile. An extremely fragile crust that hugs the body and cracks when the body moves.
The material of impermanence and ideals
Wax embodies a wide range of interpretations. It is a very volatile material. It melts quickly and is easily fracturable in its solid state. I was particularly interested in its symbolic meaning associated with the candle as a cult or ritualistic object, used for worship, to watch over a dead person, to make a wish… A narrative that includes some of the main aspects of social psychology (to die, to celebrate, to wish…) and that is usually used to connect with something metaphysical, or elevated. Altogether, the different symbolism of the material alongside its volatility makes its destruction caused by wearing and using these ready-made garments, a result of great beauty and admiration for me. Through the aesthetic sacredness of the candle and the wax broken into thousands of pieces, a mortal, sensitive body is revealed underneath. Condollences merges these two surfaces, articulating a poetic around fragility and the human condition.
The title is an association of two words. ‘Condolence’, is used to express sympathy for the pain of others, usually in the case of the death of someone close, and ‘doll’, is an archetype of a fictional femininity, of a pure body. These two words activate a dichotomy between complementary semantic fields: the beginning and the end of life. Old age and childhood, the deterioration and the vitality of the body, an aching/worn out/corrupted flesh and a pure body.
Archetypes of feminity
Additionally, I was fascinated by the presence of the feminine within this game of words. I analyze femininity as a cultural legacy by establishing a new meaning and representing it through the wax. The ideal of the feminine is often associated with sensitivity, delicacy, volatility, and sensuality, but nevertheless, like all archetypes, it is still something fictitious, a fantasy that, by interfering with reality, generates violence and establishes something unattainable as desirable. The word ‘doll’ in ‘condolence’ refers, therefore, to the acceptance of this very thing, to the desacralization of that which is admired, to the interference between the dreamed and the lived, fiction and reality, social psychology and individual psychology and to conclude, the demise of the ideal or the hysteria of pursuit. With this being said, I wanted to reverse this dichotomy and turn it into a canon. To unfold an aesthetic imagination in a collection of garments that turns these contradictions into a product of admiration.
Condollence fashion show was presented at the HFBK 2023 annual exhibition. In order to materialize the whole narrative deployed with this work, I was particularly interested in reproducing a commercial format by entering into the capitalist commercial logic that molds and shapes expectations, – in this case of the fashion world, – to introduce the pieces. My goal was not to criticize the fashion world but rather to expose the fragility and vulnerability of such mass spectacles. On the runway, the pieces made of wax worn by the performers were gradually breaking in front of an audience of 250 people, leaving a trail of small pieces of wax behind them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Barcelona in 2002, Darío Simón Abelló began studying Fine Arts at the University of Barcelona in 2020 and moved two years later to Hamburg to study stage design at the HFBK, where she is currently studying. Her work revolves around the investigation of the scene as a scenographer and costume designer.
Direction, Stage and Costumes – Darío Simón Abelló
Performers – Elisa Maria Zeisler, Merle Morzé, Arian Gharehbaghi, Peng Zchei,
Gabriela Guimaraes, Kati Müüripeal, Stratis Chatziefstratiou, Leoni Maltz, Willi Mend.
Sound – Ki Uki
Photo – Jenny Bewer
Light programming – Leo Schlurz
Video – Hannah Fee kreuzer, Andre di Franco
Stage Assistant – Saba Emadabadi
Dramaturgy – Héctor Espuela Pablo
Opening picture of the article: by Jenny Bewer