Becoming Siren (September 1940–May 1941)


Alexandra Hopf

Year: 2020
Format: Publication; 104 pages, 27 × 21 cm, softcover embossed, thread stitching, brochure
Text: Silke Ballath, Alexandra Hopf, Rosanna McNamara
Language: English
Design: Book Book
ISBN: 978-3-907112-34-2
Price: CHF 41.00

Becoming Siren links the cultural history of the Siren with the story of the legendary ‘siren suit’, an overall worn by women in England during World War II. This suit was also worn by the dancers of the eponymous performance group ‘The Sirens’. Performing in bunkers and underground shelters during the Blitzkrieg, they developed a choreography that transformed the state of emergency into a rite of passage. Within this narrative, a space unfurls for a utopian social moment in which gender polarities and class differences dissolve.

Historical texts of animal and human camouflage behaviour, which depict how boundaries between subject and object dissolve, as well as ideas about the cyborg inspired by science theorist Donna Haraway are taken up in essays and poetic reflections. The anthology jumps back and forth in terms of time and content; the resulting gaps create spaces for new readings. The historical source material and the reconstructed scene images of the dance make visible not only how multifaceted the mythological Siren is, but also how she has empowered herself after centuries of her myth being appropriated.

Interview: Julia M. Strauß im Gespräch mit Alexandra Hopf