Not gonna give you
my coat, no, no
The exhibition "Dressing demons: everyday and formal attire of Hell's inhabitants" explores the vestimentary practices of those who after death were destined for eternal anguish – above all, as a coping strategy, a tool necessary for everyday survival in the nether world space (and in particular, in its most investigated sector; M1, described by Linor Goralik, the author of the exhibition, in her book "Oral folklore of the M1 sector inhabitants").
Not gonna give you my coat, no, no
The scheme of the involuntary change of the damned's body in the process of "demonification"
"Demons" are just "demonified" people – they're people who are driven by dwelling in Hell's timelessness to an extreme state where they torment themselves and those close to them. As such, there is no clear delineation between "demons" and "damned" here, there's only a broad spectrum of human behavior models, and, of course, this spectrum is reflected in clothing and corporeality. Physically, demons do not have any "infernal" features (horns, tails, hooves). But in the process of "demonification" a person undergoes two distinct physical metamorphoses: his walk acquires a very particular character – he walks with his knees heavily bent and the back arched – and the tips of his ears grow noticeably redder. The described feature of the posture significantly influences the design and fit of clothing, and alterations and fitting as a person demonifies becomes an important topic in and of itself.
(The author thanks Olga Philippova, who created this illustration, for her help)
Figure of a "demon"
Author: Victor Melamed
Wire, papier-mâché
Some damned souls risk attempting to pass for "demons" (although if they're exposed the consequences of such behavior can be the most unpleasant), but it's highly inconvenient to maintain the appropriate posture. A self-made "corset" hidden underneath the clothes helps the damned accomplish this mission.
Sports gear, chains, spring hooks
Two pairs of shoes for "demons"
One pair is made in the workshops where the damned make clothes for "demons", the other is made from makeshift materials by a "demon" who is indifferent to the issues of costume.
Leather, brocade, accessories, hemp rope, rubber
Feathered jewelry for the buttocks of a "demon"
"Demons" walk with their buttocks significantly stuck out, so the elements of costume with a particular focus on the buttocks are quite common.
Neoprene, metallic thread, seed beads, bugle beads, rhinestones, leather, feathers, accessories, hand embroidery
Jewelry for the neck of a person with a broken neck
Nothing ever heals in Hell – and many damned souls and "demons" choose not to hide but to underline their injuries with relevant accessories
Details of a typewriter, faux pearls, stuffed snow bunting, photographic paper, wood, plastic etc. Mixed technique.
Blouse with size tags
Created by an unknown damned soul in the Far eastern workshops of the M1 sector
Textile, mixed technique
Collection of broken needles and pins
Collecting is a major part of everyday life of Hell's inhabitants (it is described in detail in Zone 6 of this exhibition). Here is a collection of broken and deformed needles and pins that a damned seamstress was collecting for years during her work in a workshop making clothes for "demons", writing down which garment she was working on at the corresponding moment.
Wood, needles, pins, paper.
Pants of a "demonifying" person
A pair of pants that a damned soul was unskillfully altering while he was undergoing the process of turning into a "demon" as his body was changing correspondingly.
A pair of pants that a damned soul was unskillfully altering while he was undergoing the process of turning into a "demon" as his body was changing correspondingly.
Tights of a woman with cigarette burns
Nothing ever heals in Hell – and many damned souls and "demons" choose not to hide but to underline their injuries with relevant accessories. Here are the tights of a woman who meticulously decorated the traces of cigarette burns with contemporary embroidery.
Embroidery hoop, seed beads, thread.
Sackcloth from an undershirt and plastic hair
Since actual Hell has no pitchforks, cauldrons and such – there's only endless anguish – a mix of anxiety, boredom, horror, regret, penitence and godforsakenness – some of the damned think that they don't suffer enough for their sins and strive to increase their suffering with various forms of self-punishment and self-torture. Here is a "sackcloth" from a "beater" shirt and hairs from a brush for clothes.
Textile, plastic hairs, glue
Stigmatic set for punishing a "sham"
"Demons" give severe punishments to the damned caught trying to pass for "demons." The "sham," stripped naked, is dressed in something like a school apron made from red lamé, and a mask with a tongue clasp and a pin. The origin of this tradition is unknown: a legend says that it traces back to the Scold's bridle from the Middle ages, and an inversion of a preparatory school tradition to take off a girl's apron as a sign of a humiliating punishment for wrongdoings; a different version, explaining this particular shape of the apron and pin, says that it's an old joke of the "demons", connected to the Little Octobrists' Oath:
"We are honest, young and true
we are Octobrists, through and through
whatever troubles shall be found
we'll never let each other down".
The origins of this last version is unknown, but it is regularly told to newcomers who end up in Hell and observe the punishment. The apron is clearly made in the same workshops where the damned make clothes for "demons," but it's tailored awkwardly and unskilfully – it was evidently assigned to someone who disliked the job.
Lamé, iron net, wool threads, artificial hair, felt, cardboard, clasp, wooden peg, children's craft supplies.
Next zone
Linor Goralik
Personal Site:
Made on