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I carefully crafted a tissue paper dress made from a World War II vintage pattern. Installed in a backyard exhibition, I left the work out in the rain on a clothesline to disintegrate.
Paper is both tenacious and vulnerable. Soaking wet, subject to uncontrolled elements, it weathers, and disintegrates. Dry, folded, glued, sewed, layered, it becomes stronger with each increase in layer, much like life experiences. In this work, I re-created a nightgown from a 1940's Simplicity pattern using tissue paper, sewing and glue, hung on aircraft cable, onto an old laundry pulley which has been in the backyard for so long it has become embedded in the tree. Tissue paper, generally used for wrapping gifts, and filling spaces, masking the surprise, and covering the items, when made into an article of clothing reveals the underlying structures through the translucent material and sunlight. Wafting in the breeze, sagging in the rain, the paper nightgown will eventually disappear along with its blissful and deeply tragic narratives.
This work is a response to recent research with my father about his father who was a medical officer and casualty in Burma during World War II. The circumstances surrounding his death are referred to as an atrocity and so the terrain is difficult - through emotional, logical, and historical information. A very personal, yet unfortunately common experience of loss through war, the residual effects are still visible in our family culture. As the ephemera of World War II disappears along with the first hand voices, the pieces of the story become more difficult to put together. As an adult however, the process of researching with my father has helped me understand and connect with my father.