How does it feel to create without an end in mind? 2008Daughters is a project that narrows in on process as opposed to outcome. Performances and workshops use textiles as a medium to freely link minds, bodies, and identities. SEEK met with Isa Griese, one of
the founders, to talk fashion-insanity.


Interview by Zsuzsanna Toth


From sewing people into clothes to reconstructing clothing patterns and making music — during 2008Daughters’ work hours anything is possible. The result? An incalculable experience that exceeds common notions of human behaviour and aesthetics. In the discussion below, some answers are given on the non-definition of beauty, and how to not be afraid of uncertainty and ugliness.



Where did the name 2008Daughters come from? 


The full name is “Daughters With Love Born in Cherimus Circus 2008”, which sums up the origin of our artistic existence. “Daughters” stems from the constant gender discussion: we are girls, we are boys, we are women, we are men. No, we are just daughters. Or sons. “2008” is on the one hand the year we met, but it also signifies the constant flow of people through our workshops
and performances. 


2008Daughters is yourself and Derek M F Di Fabio. Where did you and Derek first meet? 


Derek, whose background is in fine arts and I, who studied fashion design, met in Milan at “Let’s Circus” – an art project by Marco Colombaioni, the co-founder of Cherimus, whom we both know through different contexts and contacts. After that project, in which I also taught Derek how to sew, we decided that we wanted to continue working together, so we stayed connected between my home base in Germany and his in Milan.



Later you chose performances and workshops as an art form. You work with people that you don’t necessarily know and can’t plan the outcome. How does it feel to lose control? 


It’s nice to see people doing things you didn’t expect. We try to avoid being too scholastic. We don’t want to teach, we just want to give freedom a little structure. The idea is not to tell people, “make a dress, paint it blue.” 


Textiles are the main materials you use in your workshops. What kind of fabric do you use? 


I really like working with jersey and to combine it with transparent materials and hand knitting. When processing, we started working with natural dyeing methods. We are experimenting in our workshops, so we don’t know exactly how the texture will change.


You can’t really conceptualize the direction of your workshops. Isn’t that scary? 


We have seen very different reactions. People sometimes expect a fashion workshop in the very classical sense. But that’s not what we want to give. Speaking about fear of the uncertain, to us it’s the most fundamental thing about life anyway: you can’t plan it. You can, for example, plan to move to a new city, but you can’t foresee what’s going on there.


Where do textiles end and fashion begin? 


When I hear the word “fashion” I think of catwalks, models, self-
portrayal. But my perception of clothes is what’s built around the body of one specific person. I was born in the eighties, grew up in the nineties, and was influenced by a visual language that wanted to show real life — an idea that Juergen Teller’s “everybody-can-
be-everything” stood for. It was more about character than defining fashion and beauty in a limited way. It was real rather than staged. Of course it was staged, but it was a staged reality. I was never into the glamorous side of fashion. I want to create unique pieces and act beyond the system.


The topics you translate into performances and workshops deal with a lot of socio-cultural observations. How do you come up with your ideas, and who plans the practical implementation? 


Often Derek comes up with an idea that seems to have come from a dream he had the night before. Then my pragmatic side leads us to think the realization through. A good example of us working together was our project “SEW U” in Turin last summer. The idea was to explore the boundaries that join a community to a space, and the emotional connection between a person, an entity and its surroundings. Derek’s dream was to construct a shopping trolley with a sewing machine on top. 

For the work, a person lies on a table and the sewing-machine-
trolley drives to that person, and then sews them inside fabric that becomes clothes. It was my task to figure out how far you can get to the body without stitching it, and to consider how the person would come out. So I decided to take the T-shirt patterns we used in a previous workshop and simply make a very big T-shirt dress. 


Your last project in Berlin was called “Dirtymess”. What was it about? 


The three-day workshop combined actions and elements from our former projects. On the first day we only spoke and did body exercises. We didn’t touch anything because we wanted to learn about the participants first. On day two and three we made coffee, tea, vegetables, and spices to colour some textiles without chemicals.


Every workshop contains aspects and teachings from the previous workshop. What did you learn from this last experience? 


A lot about human behaviour and staying flexible, which meant finding new solutions for those unique, unexpected situations.


Your artistic work is physical. People move, create, and touch in a real way. But the documentation of your work can be found on tumblr – a platform of fake realities. How does the reality of the work and the distortion of its representation come together? 


That’s a funny aspect. I like to tell real stories, but I also like having something between what’s fake and what’s real. Our work is real, and we document that reality. But sometimes there is something unreal in a real performance and story, which is no less important than the real stuff. 


In general, without knowing where your ideas lead you, how do you usually measure “success”? 


It’s not so much about what comes out as a product, but about simply enjoying and discussing the work in the midst of its actual creation. And if something beautiful comes out it’s great. There’s no right or wrong. It’s more about giving people access to the illusive possibility of creating something in a completely free way.


The outcome of your work is not necessarily something that would be referred to as beautiful or “aesthetic”. Aren’t you afraid of ugliness? 


We don’t want to judge something as good or bad, or beautiful or ugly. We want to create. I think that something unexpected can grow to be beautiful. Of course aesthetics and beauty exist, and we care about them. We like doing stuff and actually being with people at a particular moment, experiencing the atmosphere of it all. That’s an aesthetic! And it’s magic!