From “Legacy in the Pocket” to the “Transmitted Legacy”

The rag doll project was created as a part of the installation for the fieldwork : Slow Design : Body/ Clothing/ Memory in the International Contemporary Art Triennial , PortIzmir3 ( 2014). The installation entitled “Legacy in the Pocket” was a collection of co-created dolls by communities of women, together with the designer-author [1]. As a participatory design project, it involved the production of rag dolls, which can be made and dressed by the user. Thus , the project presents a paradigm for reducing the gap between design and crafts , arts and design, and beholder and the artist. The author/ designer has been inspired by a tale in the book “Women Who Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa D.Estes, which reminds the reader how important it is to trust her own “wild woman”, and to ensure that the now almost forgotten “female wisdom” is passed on to future generations, in order to preserve all the properties in her essence as her “legacy”, and thus to ensure her own survival. The doll, then, has come to represent a code to be collectively shared and identified with, to create an interface between personal memories and collective memory, and between the private and public space.

The participatory process is then continued with different groups of children and young people between the ages 7 to 16, in order to explore the “ Transmitted Legacy” within the frame of intergenerational equity. With the supervision of the designer , through a series of workshops, children and teenagers could dress the dolls following their imagination in few hours . The workshops are organized in a way the participants can dress-up , thus identify the dolls after listening a tale from the book Woman Who Run with the Dolls. As the dolls are composed of a single piece of fabric and shaped up with a few stitches, they can also be reproduced by using the pattern . However different than the other rag dolls they represent a very neutral graphical character which the maker can freely identify them by making clothes, hair and features of their face . A kind of dress –up play is designed like 3d version of cut-out paper fashion dolls, through which the maker/ user / player could reflect her/ his personal memories and narratives on the doll with just a surface . For children and youngsters dolls refer to a paradigmatic play which is not merely meant to describe the rules of the play, describing how they have to play with a particular toy as merely passive consumer , but rather , they become a medium which players can personalize for themselves. Especially children who become the makers and the players at the same time , can associate the dolls by themselves and they can see the dolls to reflect the adult world around them . ( Collins in Wolfendale and Kennett 2011, 153)

Within the doll dress-up workshops , children and teenagers could practice two kind of plays ; Firstly to spend some time having fun by using their hand skills , becoming a maker and a creator of a character . Secondly; manipulating and personifying this character in a way they want to see and reflect in a paradigmatic role playing model. Within the exhibition the author/ designer intends to present a visual archive of the project’s public outcome , and an artistic installation of collection of the dolls that are created by the participants[2].

[1] The visual documentation of the installation entitled “Legacy in the Pocket” in PortIzmir 3 is attached to the application

[2] Workshop process of proposed exhibition “Transmitted Legacy” is attached to the application

Discussion From “Legacy in the Pocket” to the “Transmitted Legacy”

  • Michael Kaethler

    Hi Solen, thanks for posting this project that deals with so many interesting elements such as time, learning and community. I particularly appreciated the photo that shows a mixture of boys and girls working on the dolls. How important for you is working across the gender divide that is normally associated with traditional crafts such as quilting and doll making? And how do you engage/ approach gender issues in your work?

    17.06.2016 — 15:48Yes(0)No(0)Reply

    • Solen Kipöz

      dear Micheal
      thank you so much for your interest
      The doll project is particularly designed as a metaphore of women , as a reference to female wisdom , as a code which represents the legacy of archetypical knowledge of women.That is why the participatory process of dressing the dolls started with women communities . However with children and teens it turned out in to a colective experience which equally approaching to both genders.Actually the design of the dolls which almost reflects a neutral graphical figure also allowed a freedom of personalization of the dolls, not only to different characters but also,to different gender identities . Here as a designer and facilitator I learned from participants as well. And this kind of gender personalization was one of the very interesting responses I got in the workshops . Also the dress-up process which requires hand skills such as cutting and sewing was actually a kind of craft play and theraphy for both genders in a world which digital domain is almost surrounded their lifes.

      18.06.2016 — 14:54Yes(1)No(0)Reply

      • Michael Kaethler

        Thanks Solen for expanding on this, I find it fascinating. If you don’t mind, I’d really be interested in knowing about how people responded to these questions of gender, having boys take part in a traditionally-female centred act, and if there were strong reactions against mixing of genders?

        20.06.2016 — 16:12Yes(0)No(0)Reply

        • Solen Kipöz

          Dear Micheal , actually , before the workshop I did with little children one of the male instructors recommended to work with a group of girls . Luckily a female coordinator collected both girls and boys . In this group varying between 7-12 , both girls and boys did not have sufficient hand skills to complete the dresses , but they took help from us . They completely took the dolls as gender neutral . However , boys dressed male figures , and girls dressed female figures . In the group with the school teens (ages between 14-16 ) girls were dominant in number , and they acquires better hand skills in sewing , cutting and stitching . Also , girls wanted to modify the neutral bodies in to a feminine figure. Boys however , from the very beginning they had a very definite idea about what to do , and they executed very precise models . We realized that almost all of the participants reflected their identities by dressing the dolls. I hope I could answer your question.

          20.06.2016 — 18:36Yes(1)No(0)Reply

  • Ayla

    Hi Solen, this project is a mirror to life by children and teenagers… How life surrounding them shapes children and how they want to shape life can be seen on their paper dolls.. Fantastic project.. Run further Solen!

    18.06.2016 — 14:16Yes(1)No(0)Reply

    • Solen Kipöz

      dear Ayla , you made such a valuable comment ., I hope this experience would effect their life in a positive way in the long run., we are dressing -up the rag dolls ., but yes , the inspiration was exactly the paper dolls ..thank you so much for your support 🙂

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