From April 20 2005 to April 21 2005


Shop-Window Performance Links Embroidery, Biology and the Migration of Cultural Patterns


Performance April 20, noon to 6pm and April 21, noon to 2pm, 2005
Opening Thursday, April 21, 7pm

MONTREAL - Montreal artist Andrea Vander Kooij proudly presents "Efflorescence," a performance in body adornment, which will take place in various Montreal locations between Saturday, April 16 and Tuesday, April 26 (see bottom of release for date, time and locations details).

Efflorescence is a performance that combines the methodology of decorative body markings, like tattooing and henna painting, with the motifs and the history of embroidery. Seated in shop windows at the various downtown performance locations, Ms. Vander Kooij will painstakingly embroider a dress for herself in Jacobean Blackwork designs. The embroidery will mirror similar designs previously applied onto Vander Kooij's own body using henna, a semi-permanent plant-based dye traditionally used in India and North Africa to mark rites of passage like menses or marriage. The pattern will be painted on every possible area her skin, including the face.

"Since henna fades, the pattern will remain on my body for about two weeks, during which I will go about my daily activities visibly marked," says Vander Kooij. "These designs will place me outside the context of unmarked people, will mark me as different, or set apart, communicating a sense of estrangement."

"Adornment also functions in tandem with display and desire, especially with respect to the female body. By using downtown Montreal shop windows as the venue for this performance, I will investigate sites of commercial display."

Ý"Sitting in shop windows wearing a simple costume similar in colour to my flesh, I will pass the time by embroidering the henna pattern painted on me onto my clothing, as though the pattern has risen up to my skin to be subsequently transferred from skin to cloth. These two slow processes - fading and embroidery - will gradually bleed into one another as the pattern moves from one semi-permeable membrane to another."

Blackwork is a scrolling, often floral, somewhat geometric, repeated pattern embroidered in black silks on white linen. It is sometimes also known as "Holbein Embroidery," owing to its regular appearance on the sitters' clothing in the art of Hans Holbein the Younger; and "Spanish Work," due to the fact that it came into popular use in England via textile imports from Spain. Vander Kooij's research indicates that Blackwork is likely derived, at its root, from North African decorative art traditions.

"When I first conceived of this work, I was doing a lot of Blackwork embroidery," she says. "I began to think of the pattern as having a life of its own, some kind of microscopic mould or culture that, given the right conditions, would spread and cover any available surface. I wanted to cover a whole garment with it. But then, imagining the garment, I began to wonder why this growth should stop at its edges; skin is an even more hospitable membrane than cotton or linen, so why should it not continue across the borders of the garment and drift onto the skin?

"Then I began to think more about where this pattern/growth was coming from. It began to seem more likely that the growth would begin on the skin and then end up on the fabric. And prior to the skin? It seemed to me that it came from inside the blood, that this pattern/growth or microscopic, cellular thing was floating around in my bloodstream. It rises to the surface, presses against the membranes, comes up through the epidermis and blooms through the skin: Efflorescence. Then, once on the skin, it begins to move and migrate, fading and bleeding across the borders of my clothing, gradually abandoning my skin as host, moving instead to my clothing.

"Just as bacteria that grow indiscriminately wherever they find a hospitable environment, in the same way cultural patterns move easily across borders and divides, regardless of culture or geography - as this one has, from Morocco to Spain to England and, through the art of the past, into the consciousness of the present. Pattern travels, adjusts and mutates to adapt to its new environment and ensure its own survival."

All are invited to come out to see "Efflorescence." The performance will take place at the following times and locations:

April 16: Garnitures Dressmaker Ltee, 2186 Rue Ste-Catherine, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
April 17: Friperies St-Laurent, 3976 Boul St-Laurent, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
April 19: Librarie Astro, 1844 Rue Ste-Catherine Ouest, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
April 20: La Centrale, 4296 Boul St-Laurent, noon to 6:00 p.m.
April 21: La Centrale, 4296 Boul St-Laurent, noon to 2:00 p.m.
April 22: Mojo, 3968 Boul St-Laurent, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
April 23: Scandale, 3639 Boul St-Laurent, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
April 25: Coiffure Modish, 1841 Rue St-Catherine Ouest, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
April 26: Les Brodeuses, 5364 Boul St-Laurent, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
For further information, please contact the artist, Andrea Vander Kooij, at 935-4183 or