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Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson

Bulletproof Evening Gown (exhibition copy), Sweden,1993

Fabric sculpture,
180x70x70 cm

Courtesy of the artist and Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm

Paulina Wallenberg-Olsson designs fashion in the event of terror, or more precisely, a party dress enfolding a sense of threat. In truth, it is just one of a series of “day-to-day” items the artist has created, like a bullet-proof Sunday dress for a girl and a fire-proof sleeping bag for a baby.

The image is directed at the sensitive point between war and terrorism, and the private and domestic landscape. The new reality it represents replicates the game rules of the traditional battlefield on the civilian street, again reminding us that this is not a war between soldiers, and that we are all vulnerable in the battlefield that is the home.

The armored party dress is woven of a specially fortified thread – whose mode of production is based upon the way spiders weave their webs. This thread serves in the production of flak jackets for the army.

One could say that this is none other than Clordina, heroine of Tasseau’s epic “Jerusalem Liberated”, referred to in the writings of Cathy Caruth published in this catalogue. As battle raged, Clordina put on armour, and as this made it impossible to identify her, she was murdered inadvertently by her lover. In his grief, the lover plunges his sword into a tree, and Clordina’s voice is heard from the bleeding trunk, complaining that her lover has wounded her yet again. Caruth claims that Clordina symbolizes the return of the trauma. The armored party dress is transformed into the phantom ache endured by persons whose traumas are scarred into their flesh