‘Papier,’ Free Paper Couture Exhibit On View at House of Sweden

“What connects us the most is the love of paper and the love of working with our hands,” says Stina Wirsén, an illustrator who met paper couturier Bea Szenfeld while working for a Swedish newspaper and “fell in love” with her work.

In their third exhibit together, Wirsén and Szenfeld present Papier, now on view at the House of Sweden, displaying Szenfeld’s handmade paper garments with Stina Wirsén’s expressive fashion drawings as a colorful backdrop.

“All of my drawings in this exhibition are a tribute to Bea’s work,” says Wirsén.

Using scissors, tape, staples, needle, and thread, Szenfeld creates pieces that are remarkably intricate and delicate. On close examination, you can see the precision of the work, including foldings and pencil templates. “Nothing is laser cut,” says Szenfeld.  “It’s just hours and hours of sitting by the desk and drawing and cutting and gluing.”

Some pieces are origami folds, others consist of thousands of individual pieces put together. “Most of my garments are really heavy,” she says, explaining one method of tieing paper through string separated by beads. “I need such a large amount of paper that I cannot afford to use really fancy paper so I use normal… regular copying paper.”

Her garments can be found in art galleries and fashion magazines as well as on Nobel Prize guests, politicians and musicians like Lady Gaga and Björk.

“It’s totally wearable, and it’s one size fits all!” she says.

In the center of the room, apart from the wearable couture is another of Szenfeld’s artistic creations, though this one has a more poignant purpose. A collection of paper children lie together, heaped in the center of the room.

Explaining it is sad, but in it, there is undeniable beauty.

“It’s about how we react when someone younger than ourselves passes away,” says Szenfeld.

In conjunction with the opening of this exhibition, the Embassy is also hosting exhibitions on Smart Mobility and Design Talk: Sustain Able Voices through June 28, 2020. All exhibits are open every weekend, free to the public, from Noon to 5 pm Saturdays and Sundays.

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