Donatella Bernardi, A suit made out of a galactic towel

A suit made out of a galactic towel

2019. Installation and performance at the symposium. Performed by Elma

Donatella Bernardi for Digital Dramatizations, in collaboration with Laura Locher, fashion designer

Script for the performance:

As in any drama, we are all playing a role and wearing a suit of some kind. Mine is made out of a towel. Stars can be seen on it, with the dark blue sky as a background.

[The actress turns herself around to show the four sides of her body: front, left and right sides, then back.]

There are stars of different sizes, burning at different intensities: some are nearer, and some are very far away. My suit portrays a distant landscape. Some stars are indeed shining extremely far away from us. But they are at once also very near, on my skin. It is a tangible illusion, a haptic representation. These stars, lightning stones or burning suns, are not black holes: much to the contrary. They don’t allow you to disappear into the middle of the nowhere. These stars are on my skin; they are like part of a second skin – my suit. This second skin, made from a towel, might reveal something about you. It can at least welcome any liquid: it can dry your tears, for example. The tears of someone missing or longing for a small animal, a flower, a human being, or a baby. You might remark, “The size of one of my tears is ridiculous in comparison with the size of this remote star.” It doesn’t matter, actually. As you know, some abyssal seas are made of tears. My skin-towel can dry your tears. In fact, looking at the sky, looking at the stars shining in the deep blue, the almost black sky of a clear night, can help you to recover from any kind of sorrow. And the deep blue of the sky in the middle of the night is at times akin to the deep blue of the ocean. Can you imagine bathing among the stars? You get some distance from the matter – you will never reach a star – while you are so much a part of it. You are dressed in the canopy of heaven. The suit is also soft. It can welcome any cuddle. Any caress, even the most subtle one, has an impact on the galaxy, even remotely.

[The actress offers to let the viewer touch her arms or any part of the suit she is wearing and enters into a conversation with the audience.]


Donatella Bernardi (Geneva, 1976) is a multidisciplinary artist working with installations, publications, films, essays and exhibition curatorship. In 2015, she was a guest curator at the Kunsthalle in Bern, an experience followed by the publication of Into Your Solar Plexus (Humboldt Books, 2016). In 2017, she exhibited a new body of works, The Belly of the Phoenix, at Last Tango, Zurich, curated by Linda Jensen and Arianna Fellini. From August 2017 until January 2018, she is in Zug, as Landis & Gyr artist in residency. Since January 2017, she is the Head of the MA Fine Arts at ZHdK, Zurich University of the Arts and was professor at the Royal Institute of Art (Kungliga Konsthögskolan) in Stockholm (2010-2016).

Elma (Elitsa Mateva) is a multidisciplinary artist with focus on the art of acting. She loves the intertwining between science and art. She finished her B.A. in Psychology, International Politics and Writing at University College of Utrecht, followed by an M.A. degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights, also in the Netherlands. Ever since, she has been devoted to using and developing her knowledge in science manifested through the expressions of the art. Her explorations dwell in the realm of art, in particular acting, psychology and emotional intelligence with reference to quantum theory. She likes using the language of all of the senses to create multidimensional interactions. In her words: “I feel like an investigator and an instigator in an endeavour to refine the connection between the earth and space and all forms of intelligence.”

Elma at Das Imperium