Mourning Materialized

Commisioned by Zuiderzeemuseum Enkhuizen

Tapestries as biographies

One of the most conspicuous traditions and customs in the Zuiderzee region was the characteristic costume in times of mourning. 

People who had lost a loved one wore regulation colours in shades varying from deep dark blue or black immediately after the death, to red when the mourning period was concluded.

The moment when one could switch from one colour to the other was laid down in codes and regulations. Further the duration of the period of mourning was determined by the relationship that the bereaved had with the deceased. In this way everyone could see without being told in what stage the person in mourning was, as well as the seriousness of the lost. 

This was the central idea that the designers duo RENS used as a point of departure for a study that resulted in an unusual exhibition: here tapestries are displayed dyed according to traditional methods and manifesting both the different stages and the duration of the mourning costume. 

RENS made a profound study of the lives of inhabitants of the Zuiderzee region, whose moments of mourning they translated into a visual presentation like grooves. The tapestries, the length of which reflects people's life span, this represent a unique biography in colour and material.