Nudity, minimalist solutions, and simply extreme neglect in clothing may serve on one hand, as an important coping mechanism, on the other hand, as a tool of self-punishment, repentance and asceticism, or a conscious effort to avoid "demonification." However, these decisions may turn out to be quite ambiguous – as ambiguous as the motives and emotions of those who take them. For example, a woman covers the inner side of an old robe, which she always wears, with tender addresses to her suffering body – that turn out to be the only expressions of care about it, while an old man collects (everyone in Hell collects things – this is described in detail in Zone 6) pieces of his own dry skin, feeling that they are integral parts of his disintegrating self. Even in cases where the body is rejected and there's no willingness to recognize its importance, it constantly reminds the damned about itself, through, among other things, clothing.
In Hell the relationships with the body progressively deteriorate for obvious reasons, and in attempts to repair them the damned may resort to radical measures (see the "I am Yakov" object). Here is the robe of a damned soul who died in 1981, who covered the inside of her only clothing item with words of endearment for different parts of her body, poetic praises for them and stylized appeals "God help me".
Vintage robe, permanent marker
Tracksuit worn for over 26 years
The only clothes of a damned soul who died in 1989 (only items that touched the body of the deceased at the moment of death get to Hell, and some of the damned refuse to participate in the process of searching, begging, or other methods of acquiring extra clothes)
Sketch of the naked damned at work at the workshops
A sketch of the damned at work in the Far eastern workshops of the M1 sector. This drawing features naked damned souls making clothes for two dressed up "demons", a man and a woman.
(The author thanks Victor Melamed, the artist who is the real author of this work).
Textile, ballpoint pen.
Set of clothes made from a wedding dress
Since only those things that touched a person's body at the moment of death get to Hell, acquisition of new wardrobe items (just as any new things) is linked to searching, begging, exchange, extortion, violence, fighting, competition and many other, often highly unpleasant, practices. Therefore there are some in Hell who do everything within their power to make do with the clothing they already have, until it's worn to dust. Here a bra, a pair of panties, a dress, a skirt, a top, a bag and two sanitary pads have all been fashioned from a single wedding dress by its owner. The items, made roughly and inexpertly, demonstrate the willingness of their owner to put all possible effort, and go through the trouble of discomfort, dirt, heat and cold, just to avoid the process of circulation of clothes in Hell and the social situations linked to it.
A collection of dry skin from the body
Collecting practices are extremely important in Hell (it is described in detail in Zone 6 of the present exhibition). Here is a collection of dry skin from its owner's body.
Skin, velvet, cord, polyester padding
Cap for "low-breather" punishment
A cap reaching down to the waist, restraining the movements, with "Ducto" written on it and a wire gloriole, is put on the damned who tried to stick up for other damned souls in the face of "demons" – the so-called "low-breathers". This tradition is apparently quite old – the cap is clearly reenacting the "Dunce"-inscripted caps that were put as a sign of disgrace on negligent English schoolboys in the XIX century.