What does a paper dress say about the person who wears it?

Anything it wants.

Ba dum dum.

Sounds like a comic’s bad punchline (very bad), but in the case of a dress slated to be on view Friday at Space Gallery in Portland, it’s true.

A dress made of more than 1,000 small fragments of translucent paper — cut, glued and sewn by designer/artist Maria Paz Garaloces — will be lit up with LED lights and wired for sound.

So as Tamara Hoerschelmenn, the model wearing the dress, moves, the rustling and other sounds of the dress will be amplified. Hoerschelmenn will also be talking at various points, so her words will mingle with the sounds of the dress.

This unique event, which Garaloces calls “visual and minimalist,” will be taking place at Space during Portland’s monthly First Friday ArtWalk.

While the idea of a paper dress as art harkens back to the 1960s, those were often sheets of paper substituting for cotton or other fabrics. But Garaloces says the idea behind her art comes from her fascination with the repetition of one small tiny item to create something larger — something that moves and even speaks.

“I have always been amazed by the infinite variations that I can create by repetition of a single module, linked and formed in different arrangements,” said Garaloces. “I use a series of numbers and grids based on natural forms, which determine both the metaphorical aspect and the physical structure of my constructions. These are mostly meant to be worn on the body, becoming ‘narrative sculptures’ or ‘living installations’ activated by a wearer.”

That’s simple enough.

About as simple as a pair of Jimmy Choo kiln crystal-covered mesh and suede ankle boots. At least for those of us not well-versed in the merging of art and fashion.

Garaloces is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, but has been living and working in Portland for the past couple of years. She’s worked in theater and studied voice, so adding sound to her paper dress makes sense for her.

During the show at Space, Garaloces said Hoerschelmenn will be in control of a net of LED lights inside the dress so she can light up the dress, and her surroundings, in various ways at various times.

Garaloces made another paper dress using the same method for display at an art event called “Sacred & Profane” on Peaks Island in October.

As for wearing the dress, well, it’s probably too late in the season for white. Garaloces says she doesn’t wear the dress herself, although she may cast herself as the “performer” in one of her paper dress shows in the future.

After all, who wouldn’t want a dress you could hold a conversation with?

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]


filed under: