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Costume in Action

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Research Symposium 2: Costume and absence: a space for curation

Tues 10 Sept 09.30 - 11.00
Rowe Beddoe Studio

Research Symposium 2:  Costume and absence: a space for curation

The papers presented considered costume as separated from the body of the actor, as the place from where to view and create performance and as the subject for an exchange of ideas through specialised on-line resources.

 1. Keith Lodwick: The body on display: putting the actor back into the clothes and the challenges of display for theatre and film costume

Recent V&A Exhibitions – Theatre & Performance galleries, David Bowie, Hollywood Costume – have explored new ways to examine how costumes worn by performers can be displayed in engaging and innovative way. This presentation explored how the V&A is researching new mounting and staging techniques to push the boundaries for exhibition display.

2. Anastasia Miari: Making a magazine to address the absence of discourse.

Noting the absence of informed insight into the world of costume and the designers that inhabit it, Anastasia Miari set about using her skills as journalist and her understanding of performance to launch GUISE costume design magazine in 2012. It now has 400 hits a day, and a growing Facebook presence. Providing readers with ‘behind the seams’ interviews and profiles, it highlights the importance of costume design in all aspects of the entertainment industry. Beyond making the costume designer explicitly present in culture, its long-term aim is to address the exploitation that can be a by-product of the invisibility of costume.

3. Donatella Barbieri: Costume, absent bodies, curation and performance

Paradoxically the complexity of costume and its layered meanings can be unravelled more readily when it is encountered as an archived and collected object. Drawing from her on-going research at the Victoria and Albert Museum and her work as a costume-based performance maker and academic, Donatella Barbieri explores ideas around costume, absent bodies, curation and performance. Examples are drawn from the work of exhibition-maker Judith Clark, visual artist Lucy Orta, choreographer Lea Anderson and the experimental theatre of The Wooster Group. Making connections between these, she creates a costume cosmography that contextualises her creative practice.

Chair: Kate Dorney


Image: David Bowie’s costume, 1973, by Kansai Yamamoto. Photograph by Masayoshi Sukita, thanks to the Bowie archive and the V&A


Key contributors

Keith Lodwick

Keith Lodwick trained as a set and costume designer at Central School of Speech and Drama, in London. His theatre design work has been exhibited in Time&Space(Royal College of Art 1999), 2D>3D: Theatre for Performance (Millennium Galleries, Sheffield 2002), and Collaborators: UK Design for Performance (2007) for the Society of British Theatre Designers. He is now a curator at the V&A Museum in the Theatre & Performance Department and has co-curated Hollywood Costume, the V&A’s exhibition in 2012 which celebrated 100 years of costume in film and explored the central role costume design plays in cinema storytelling.

Anastasia Miari

Anastasia Miari is a lifestyle journalist with a particular passion for culture and the arts. Following her BA in Drama at Manchester and her MA at the London College of Fashion, she launched GUISE costume design magazine in 2012 for which she has been shortlisted for the prestigious Deutsche Bank Award. She is now the editor of Pigeons & Peacocks magazine and continues to work to promote Costume workers on GUISE.

Anastasia has experience in producing, her most recent production being a play at the Old Red Lion theatre and has also worked in events co-ordination at the Victoria & Albert museum.


Donatella Barbieri

Donatella Barbieri is Senior Research Fellow in Design for Performance, at London College of Fashion and at the V&A, having previously established the ground-breaking MA Costume Design at LCF.  Donatella is a scenographer, costume-based performance maker and a published author. She has designed costume extensively in the UK and around Europe, and her frustration at the lack of discourse in the area of costume has led her to dedicate her work to the advancement of practice and research in this area.  She has curated exhibitions, series of events such as Costume in Action, and is currently in the process of establishing a new peer-reviewed research journal, Studies in Costume and Performance.

Kate Dorney

Dr Kate Dorney is Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Performance at the V&A, co-editor of the peer reviewed research journal ‘Studies in Theatre and Performance’ and Research Development Officer for Theatre and Performance Research Association.  Kate is a published author, with several publications to her name, most recently ‘Played in Britain: Modern Theatre in 100 Plays’ which has also been launched as an app.