Curiosity that pushes the limits of the mind

Linnea Bågander started as a fashion design student at the Swedish School of Textiles and became a doctoral student in 2016. Early in her studies, it was apparent that her inclination was towards the artistic field, and in her master’s project she studied the similarities between architecture and clothes. 

“I created a series of sculptures that used the body as a mechanism and reference to clothes and space. Clemens Thornquist, professor of fashion design at the Swedish School of Textiles, thought I was on to something and encouraged me to start doing research”, Linnea says.

Clemens Thornquist is now her supervisor as she delves deeper into the relation between body, material, and space.

Movement as an expression

“I am curious about movement as an expression, and bodily expressions through materials. Materials articulate movements, the shape of the body, space, and often function as a body in extension. I study a non-static whole and how materials and their behaviour in motion could be used artistically in dancing”, she says.

Among other things, Linnea works with dance performances, when the materials and their qualities are equally important as those of the body.

“The material is the extended body”, she says.

Used the stage

Linnea uses the stage as her context, as it could be used to sketch openly. On stage, things can be taken to the extreme without feeling too difficult to access.

“Working with dancers is so grateful. They are used to experimenting. But at the same time, they want to be free, so the restraints of the materials are sometimes challenging”, Linnea says.

The body is the inlet to explore possibilities; partly how materials restrict or enable movements, partly how relationships between clothes, but also the shape of the room, affect motion. The discoveries could then be used to create new motion patterns. One historical example is ballet, which was danced on toe until the 19th century development of the supported shoe made it possible to dance on the tip of the toes. A new choreographic tool was born.

Her open search led her into doctoral studies. She tested different materials arranged in different ways and analysed how they affected the body, both as a movement and as an expression.

Interpret different theories

“The dancing body either has clothes or nudity as its reference. I interpret, materialise, and give shape to theories from Rudolf Laban, William Forsythe, Ohnad Nadiri, as well as the Gaga movement. I also look at theories from architecture and interaction design, which have opened up for studying the mechanics of the body. Here, I try to look at connections and formulate theories about the body’s spatial aspects”, Linnea says.

Now she experiments with the body’s movements by using a simplification in an angular system – by extending the body with a sort of rods. Except for the dancers, she uses herself as well as croquis dolls in her trials. Her documentation consists of photos and films.

Linnea Bågander thinks that the University of Borås is a good arena for artistic basic research.

“Here you have openness, broad skills, and great freedom – no ‘should dos’”, she says.

So far, it is too early to know for sure what her findings will result in.

“We live in a static society. Every step away from that is important. My research aims at developing aesthetic and artistic expressions, but it could also lead to new definitions of how we think about form as something non-static. More like something changeable, where aesthetics is in the movement. Hopefully, this contributes to more functional as well as more body-conscious design”, she concludes.

Exciting continuation, in the next act.

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Read more about Linnea Bågander.

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Text: Jessica Cederberg 
Photo: Anna Sigge