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Motion Detector No. 15: “Folded Heroes — COMIC FAN” by Stephan Hann

Museum Europäischer Kulturen

In its Motion Detector the Museum Europäischer Kulturen (MEK) displays objects from its collection that are relevant to current topics. The 15th Motion Detector presentation shows a dress: Folded Heroes - COMIC FAN by Stephan Hann, Berlin 2008. A title with a double meaning, for a creation that could not be more full of contrasts: Berlin fashion artist Stephan Hann deliberately named the dress COMIC FAN, a play on the words for a comics enthusiast and a hand-held folding fan. The dess is now on display in the lobby of the MEK until 26 April 2020.

Stephan Hann discovered the material for the dress in 2008 at a flea market near Berlin’s Museumsinsel: a box full of comics, printed in the early 1970s for US soldiers stationed overseas. The stories were clearly drawn for a male readership. In their own bizarre, naïve way, the fantasy world of the 1960s is reflected in the brutal war scenes of fierce, unflinching muscle heroes, admired longingly by large-chested women.

In stark contrast to the blunt depictions of these cold-blooded, ruthless heroes, the paper and the pale colour of the comics seem rather tender, sensitive and vulnerable: the pastel tones of light blue, pink, yellow and mint green dominate the palette, their elegant subtlety making the paper seem almost like fabric. Interestingly, the colours have not faded at all over the last 50 years – the original was printed in very light tones to begin with. This contrast between material and content inspired Stephan Hann:

I chose a dress shape from the 1960s that has a sense of lightness and girlish-ness to it. The folded trim on the collar and hem gives the dress a feeling of strictness, like a governess.  The sleeves are only suggested; they consist of multiple folded fans that are about to fly away …

The dress was first shown in 2008 in the exhibit Couture Remixed in the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Further presentations followed in Berlin (2009), Zürich (2010), Lübeck (2011) and Karlsruhe (2013). The dress has been part of the MEK’s holdings since 2013.