Donatella Barbieri

Senior Research Fellow in Design for Performance, Joint London College of Fashion - Victoria and Albert Museum

Drawing is inherent to design practice and, as such, can become routine and even formulaic, something that I have found in my own professional practice as a costume designer for performance. Currently, my research around drawing explores the way it mediates the encounters with places, bodies, dress and the way in which, by preceding thought, it distills instinctive, perceptive responses, to do with the here and the now.

In this harnessing and negotiating of sensation, the body is central to drawing practice, particularly as the impetus for drawing is, here, part of working my way into performance. The intention is that drawing becomes textual, and the body the site for performance.

The work to be exhibited is essentially a process towards the articulation of performative possibilities of body, dress and space. It emerges however from a separate research project titled Encounters in the Archive, in which I collaborated with film-maker Netia Jones to record the encounters between artists and objects in the Victoria and Albert Museum Theatre and Performance Archive at Blythe House.

My own drawings are a way to articulate that relationship, and to explore the narrative potential of those encounters, as well as to engage the imagination through the notion of the absent/ present body in an archive of performance.


Education and background
Professional experience

Donatella Barbieri is a designer, researcher and academic. Her practice as a theatre designer, in the UK and in Europe, has resulted in her work being exhibited nationally and internationally. Her extensive teaching career, built on experimental approaches to the creation of costume and performance, has culminated in the founding of the MA Costume Design for Performance, at London College of Fashion. This course builds on her research on the performative visual power of body and dress, and the role of the costume designer in the creation of performance. It also places drawing, in both in 2D and in 3D, at the very centre of the creative process of developing the performance.

Donatella is the curator of the costumebased events in Scenofest, part of Prague Quadrennial. She is currently making a film about the archive of performance and the performing body, as well as creating drawing-based workshops and writing papers that advance discourse around body, dress, scenography and performance. She is also creating costume-based performances around the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Selected exhibitions
Conferences and talks
Further Information

Donatella Barbieri is involved in the conception and production of site responsive and costume centred performances. She has worked together with experimental practitioners and young designers in the Wilton�s Music Hall, Lilian Baylis Theatre, the Royal Academy and the Raphael Room at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Key collaborators have included Marie-Gabrielle Rotie, Anton Mirto, Netia Jones and Peta Lili. Donatella has co produced, with Professor Jana Zborilova from DAM U, �LES/Forest� at the Disk Theatre in Prague.

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