The Dress

My Mom, Bernie Bauberger, used to make me dresses. We would
imagine them together. After my first rainy summer in the Yukon, I had
used a lot of indigo paint in the dark clouds. She made me a dress of
indigo silk.

I want to thank my Mom for this, as well as for the dress form on which I
made my earliest experiments in tape dresses. She was also a great help
with me creating The Dress in the Room during her visit.

And so the image of the dress comes from my family experience of
visual culture and art making. I have used the dress as a motif since
some of my earliest experiments as a painter and printmaker in the early
90s.

The dress forms you see here were not only made on female
participants. I like to make the counter-cultural claim that even though our
culture uses the dress to denote a sense of the binary female – note its
use on bathroom doors, etc. – that for me, a dress can simply represent
a human presence.  I have spent much of my life reading texts, many of
them useful and inspiring, which required me to understand “Man” to
mean humankind.  Even here in the Yukon, the sculpture “Shadow” by
Jerry Kortello just outside the Yukon Arts Centre asks us (in its bronze
plaque) to see as generally human a figure not at all androgynous. Its
ears stick out from its very short haircut, hands thrust in the pockets of its
jeans. If I am asked to see this figure as not male but merely human, I
feel fair in asking viewers to see the dress as human too.

These dresses evoke the bodies they were made on. They hold a space
which once held that body. That body has walked on from their
containment. I found myself beginning to make these dress forms not
long after my Dad died. Among other things, they meditate on mortality.
At the same time as they evoke those bodies, they depict not the body
itself, but an item of clothing. Intimate, but one step removed. Not a
nude. In this case, they represent clothing that would not perform one of
clothing’s basic functions, which is to cover.

Their transparency allows them to act as lenses. I love the way they bend
the light. Perhaps they offer another way to look at the world.

Nicole Bauberger July 2017