Rainbow Toe Socks | Under Palm Trees
“Eeew, those toe socks, with such li<le fingers, I don’t like this at all.”
“Have you ever tried them on?”
“No, actually… It is really the aesthetic that repulses me.”
(Conversation at the opening of the Dresserie)
With the borrowing-space “Dresserie” in Fuldastraße and the swap installation “En Plein Air” at Körnerpark during the Festival 48 Hours Neukölln, the limitations between artistic intervention and “customer”-oriented fashion service become blurred, engaging with the public with and against preconceived expectations. This becomes apparent in how visitors approach both settings. The Dresserie, temporarily located in an art gallery, is approached as a conceptual work by the gallery’s regulars and some neighbours familiar with its changing installations.
Random passersby are often still intrigued by the borrowing concept or in the hunt for a bargain. A woman pastor leaves the Dresserie with silver lace-up shoes. A couple disagrees in their sartorial experimentation – despite the possibility of returning the pieces, they leave empty-handed. Another couple immediately picks pieces they are eager to keep – a tailored blazer, flowing lycra pants, long Bermudas in a thick grey cotton jersey. Reactions to individual pieces are strong and clear-cut: personal preferences are well established.
A lack of sizing diversity became noticeable – the pieces discarded on the streets are often rather small. At “En Plein Air”, neighbours noticed and fixed this issue by adding larger sizes to the laundry racks in the sun, for others to swap. Found pieces from the tours paint the scene – a round in the aPernoon heat brings forward a trace of children’s sun caps. Conversations among visitors range from sustainable consumption to the value and care of clothes during the times, but also impressions of the neighbourhood itself.
An accumulation of clotheshorses under potted palm trees in Berlin-Neukölln – for some the usual neighbourhood atmosphere, for others an irritation that invites further questions: on art, the social, craft, the artisan and the found object.
While the ragpickers purposely wander to find clothes, at times, it appears that the garments find the ragpickers instead. While reorganising the pieces on the laundry racks of “En Plein Air”, Jule finds her favourite top from childhood. No longer in her possession, it may be its twin, or perhaps the very same piece which found its way back to her? With a trained eye, Stella spots a staff sweater from a cooperative supermarket peeking out from under a car. On an earlier tour, elsewhere, a neighbour had told us he had found the one he was wearing, from the same supermarket, on the streets as well and tie-dyed it with bleach for further personalisation.
A shared feeling of visitors at both the “Dresserie” and “En Plein Air” was the desire to “shop” again, post-pandemic, but without the bad conscience. A neighbour reserves a red bathrobe and blue velours sweatpants for a later swap, returning from his “palace” overlooking the park with a bag of shirts and jackets, as well as a tray with coffee. The accumulation of wealth breeds misery, he muses about an acquaintance of his – what he pursues instead is less ownership and more neighbourly exchange.
Aïcha Abbadi in company of a festival visitor // all photographs ©paolo gallo