The Hive-Dress, 2003

(in collaboration with Héloïse Audy)

La robe-ruche is an installation that was presented in several Canadian cities (Montreal, Toronto, Waterloo, Vancouver, Ottawa, Windsor) between 2003 and 2009. This project was created in collaboration with more than a thousand seamstresses working in Montreal’s textile industry.

Agnese (excerpt from the interview, 00:39)


Atika (excerpt from the interview, 00:22)

Over several months, we collected the thoughts that were crossing the minds of the seamstresses while they were sewing, asking the women to write them down, in their own languages, on thin stripes of paper. In parallel with this collection, we also built an immense skirt (3,75 m. high by 2.5 m. wide at the bottom) into which the visitor can enter. This dress is formed by thousands of pieces of scrap fabric gathered from textile factories that were cut, dyed and assembled. The seamstresses’ thoughts have been sewn one after the other, inside the dress, making visible a part of their everyday work that is never otherwise seen.

The voices of many women, from all origins, have also been hidden inside the gallery walls. Ten tiny black holes (1,5 cm diameter) were pierced in the walls, at different levels that the visitors may put their ear to, adopting all kinds of postures in order to reach the holes. The five sound tracks – deliberately left untranslated – are the result of interviews that were realized with Arabic, Columbian, Indian, Quebecer, Italian, Portuguese and French seamstresses.

On the entrance wall of the gallery are written the first names of women who participated in this “impossible project” which contributed in the creation of new openings between two environments that are usually impervious one another: that of the arts and that of the industries.

Galerie La Centrale/Powerhouse, Montreal. Dyed pieces of scrap fabric, thread, stripes of paper, steel rods, speakers, DVD player, amplifier, lettering (vinyl), 116 m2. Very warm and special thanks to all the seamstresses of Montreal’s textile industry who participated in this project. Photo: Julie Faubert and Guillermo López-Pérez.