Many years ago, I wrote an article about my mother’s mittens. Not long after her passing, I put on those mittens, and suddenly, I felt her hands. I was startled and delighted by the powerful sense of her presence in the mittens. It felt like a rare, almost mystical experience.
Collaborating with Chaja van Kollem, a young theatermaker
Over a year ago, I shared my experience with the mittens with Chaja van Kollem. She was deeply moved and asked me to photograph her wearing her deceased mother’s clothes. Since that photo shoot, we both became deeply involved in contemplating and giving shape to the idea of making contact through textiles. This is how “A Mosaic of Lost Ones” began.
Connecting through the skin
What has become apparent is that the extraordinary feeling of closeness that struck me when wearing my mother’s mittens can also be evoked in others. The notion of putting on clothing belonging to a dearly departed person elicits a certain sensation in many people, perhaps because the garments worn by the deceased bring us back to the body that is no longer present. By wearing the clothing, we can briefly fill the void while also experiencing what the other person might have felt.
Beautiful and moving
In “A Mosaic of the Lost,” we create an atmosphere with the participants where we can explore and photograph these emotions. At the same time, we listen to the stories that flow. Ultimately, the photos and stories will come together to form a book and an exhibition.
A sneak peek of the work was already on display at the Plein Theater in connection with the performance “ROUW” by Marte Boneschansker. “ROUW” was a walking audio performance in Amsterdam East about loss, and it was performed throughout the entire month of November 2022. I had the privilege of attending the performance myself and was deeply moved by all the stories of loss and different forms of grief.
Best regards, Margareta
This project is made possible with the support of the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts and the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds/Elisabeth Vermaat Müller Fund.