Arborite Housedress by Shawna Dempsey and Lori Millan

Thursday / Mar 23 / 95
8:00 pm

Music Gallery
179 Richmond Street West, Toronto

Co-sponsored by A Space and the Music Gallery

In Arborite Housedress, the pro/antagonist defends herself against racial and economic difference by clothing herself in the domestic architecture of the times: the house/dress is her shimmering, clean fortress and her prison. Throughout the piece she reveals her fears (such as gravity, or the fear that “parts of my dangerously sagging self might end up in bad neighbourhoods”) and her fantasies (border town romances, getting down with dirt, and the elimination of her family, so she will have time to devote herself more fully to being a homemaker). The wearable sculpture/costume has been exhibited at many art galleries and has been purchased by The Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of their permanent collection.

“Have you ever noticed that if you wash the floor in the morning, by nightfall it looks just the same as before you started? That you can do all of the dishes, and in a matter of hours someone has gone and dirtied them again? That children are little grime magnets, picking up all manner of stubborn stains and bringing them home again? Well, I’ve been thinking. If I could get rid of my family, it would effectively cut my work load by 60%.”

Arborite Housedress is one performance from The Dress Series (1989–1996), a group of performances that explore the dress as the female ceremonial costume and icon of femininity.  In these pieces, cloth is replaced by unlikely materials, creating juxtaposition, new meanings and upending expectations. All costumes fabricated by Dempsey and Millan.

For more information on this performance and the series, visit Dempsey and Millan’s website.


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+ ARTICLE: Arborite Housedress script