Returns is an interdisciplinary collaborative experiment investigating the materials, rhythms and choreographies of the mainstream fashion industry. This project uses the widespread 30-day retail return policy as the framework for a month-long inquiry: garments of all kinds are purchased and brought to the studio where they are very carefully taken apart. For one month, garment materials are set in constant motion, becoming an ever-shifting landscape of new clothing constellations and sculptural forms. At the end of the 30-day period, all garments are meticulously reconstructed back into their original forms and returned to stores for a full refund. 

With its first iteration in 2019, Returns has evolved from a solo inquiry into a dynamic interdisciplinary collaborative practice. Developed with collaborators from the fields of dance, somatics, choreography, costume, sound and sculpture, Returns was most recently adapted into a 30-day installation performance, co-presented by The Dance Centre and the PuSh Festival (Vancouver) in January 2024.

For this iteration, Gossen worked alongside performance collaborators, tone puorro, Erika Mitsuhashi and Jaewoo Kang. For 30 days, performers used their bodies to unearth the quiet, everyday choreographies of textile labour, supply chains, retail systems, and consumer exchange. At the same time, they drew on visual references from across time and space, using the fast fashion garments to recreate and recontextualize moments of fashion history.

Concept and Direction: Nellie Gossen / Performers: Nellie Gossen, Erika Mitsuhashi, Jaewoo Kang and tone puorro / Choreographic Mentorship: Emmalena Fredriksson / Sound Design: Nancy Tam / Production Manager & Technical Director: Paula Viitanen Aldazosa / Stage Manager: Sierra Megas / Garment Photography: Luciana Freire D'Anunciação / Artistic Support: Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes / Front of House: Ali Bosley & Shamina Senaratne

Garments purchased on January 6th, 2024




January 7th Historical Reference: Queen Elizabeth I





January 11th Historical Reference: 17th Century Joseon Princess


















January 28th
Contemporary Reference: Alexander McQueen



January 16th Free Form Collaborative Outfit



February 1st Free Form Collaborative Outfit








Reconstructed garments, sucessfully returned on February 4th, 2024





Returns Exhibition at The Scotiabank Dance Centre

The Returns 2024 installation performance generated hundreds of new outfits, photos of which were presented throughout the building of The Scotiabank Dance Centre for the duration of the show. New photos were added each day, quietly inserting the artists’ garment labor into the daily workings of this dance institution.

Photos: Dennis Ha























   

Returns (2020)

Returns uses the widespread 30-day retail return policy as the framework for a month-long inquiry: garments of all kinds are purchased and brought to the studio where they are very carefully taken apart. For one month, garment materials are set in constant motion, becoming an ever-shifting landscape of new clothing constellations and sculptural forms. At the end of the 30-day period, all garments are meticulously reconstructed back into their original forms and returned to stores for a full refund.

With a total of 8 iterations completed to date, this project has taken many different forms. Shown here is an early iteration, completed between Sept. 18th and Oct. 13th, 2020, as part of Gossen’s graduation work at Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee, in Berlin, Germany. 

Photos: Nellie Gossen





                        

Long Life

Long Life is a reflection on a year spent studying and practicing end of life care. Marking the end of this intensive period, Nellie spent the month of June 2023 in residence at the Icelandic Textile Centre where she began to weave together the traditions of her two fields of practice: clothing making and spiritual care.

Long Life is the first step along a path of creating garments for sacred life transitions. For this work, Nellie used silk dyed with Alaskan Lupine flowers to create a set of ceremonial pajamas to hold her body at the time of her own eventual death.

This work was presented at the Icelandic Textile Centre (Blonduos) in June 2023. 

Photos: Marisa Krangwiwat Holmes, taken in Nellie’s home garden




Interpretive Assembly 

Interpretive Assembly is a participatory project that works with the form of the sewing circle as a means to investigate the relationship between body, clothing and labor. To shape and be shaped by.

The sewing circle, understood as a choreography of clothing production, invites participants both with and without a background in sewing to prepare and sew garments collectively. Each garment is periodically passed around the circle, changing hands and subject to interpretation, until it returns to its owner as a finished product.

This work has been presented in homes, gardens and galleries throughout Vancouver and Berlin.