In the participatory project The Fabric of Life Papadimitriou worked with Roma gypsy women in order to learn their skills, comprehend their intuitive process of dressmaking [...].
“The most impressive element in a Gypsy house is the pile of colorful blankets which is always in the center of the room. This pile stands like a supple sculpture. The suppleness is reinforced by the fact that the gypsy blanket is the girl’s dowry. This is what a mother gives her daughter and it is a symbol of the family’s continuity. During the day this sculpture stands motionless and at night it becomes the mattress on which they lie and the blanket that covers their bodies. It is an autonomous unit, a cell and a shell.
These blankets are the first object they take with them when they leave. Whether rich or poor they insist on sleeping on them. This precious unit, when transformed into a coat, becomes the dwelling of the body. It changes identity from ‘extremely private’ to ‘overtly public.’”
In this piece, Papadimitriou is talking about clothing as well as habitat. She is convinced of the need to be at ease in the clothing one wears, and to feel at home in one’s own house – profoundly subjective experiences which chime with a secure confidence in one’s own identity.
text by Gabi Scardi
Excerpts from “Maria Papadimitriou (on fashion, blankets, Gypsy, sewing),” in exh. cat. Aware Art Fashion Identity, p. 163.