Izzy Fulford



When riding a bike, or a horse, or even driving a car, you’re communicating physically with a non-human body below you, relying on your gestures and muscles to relate to that other body. It is your material, physical existence which defines and designates your being in this interaction. You’re thinking, knowing, acting, reacting through the body, you ‘become’ your body, a concept which in itself implies a degree of separation between the body and the self. Therefore, questions are raised of what it means to be a person located in their body. Do we have bodies? Or are we bodies? The former might sound more familiar. A desire to escape from, or transcend, our status as bodily-located beings is there, yet any attempt to do so is futile. Therefore my project asks, how can we overcome our obsession with what the body is, and ask instead, what can the body do?

How can we come to view our physicality as a resource, rather than a destiny?

In response to this question, I am designing and documenting a making process that directly implicates and utilises the physical body in the fabrication of wearable objects, reframing the onset of ‘wear’ as a productive bodily output. I use knit as my primary medium because it enables me to make my own fabrics, selectively combining yarns into knitted structures that have body-reactive properties. Most importantly, this making process is not finished when my work comes off the knitting machine, rather it is usually just starting. I knit pieces using only rough measurements and shaping, before stretching over the body and pinning and stitching them into a wearable form. The materials I have developed react to wear in ways that are destructive and constructive, extreme and subtle, permanent and temporary. Under the COVID-19 lockdown, my one hour per day of government allocated outdoor exercise time became a key part of this process - this was when I wore the pieces I am making. Through physical exertion and embodied acts, the wearing-as-making process is initiated, the movements and secretions of the body are inserted into the fabric of the object as a performative, designed process. These are activities that produce unique sets of embodied knowledges - ‘muscle memories’ that testify to the capacity of the body to know and learn in its own right. In this way, I aim to create a making process where the body is not the object to be adorned, but rather the very method of fabrication.