Dirndlmoschee (Dirndl-dress Mosque)

Dirndlmoschee is a the traditional Austrian costume transformed for Islamic uses; its apron, made of Uzbek Ikat silk, can be used a prayer rug, while the traditional jewelry features Mecca compass to find prayer direction. The project is a site-specific development of my "wearable mosques," clothes that can be transformed into minimal prayers spaces for Islamic worship. The piece is designed for a woman who is both a Muslim and an Austrian. The project aims to point out that mosques can also be possible places of cultural exchanges that cross borders and identities.

The wearable mosque project is based on a conceptual understanding of the mosque as an ephemeral space, which can switch programmatically from a secular to religious functions. The stylistic and programmatic transformations of the minimal mosque are thereby anticipated as an inner quality of its spatial system, which can change depending on the context and time. Each wearable mosque piece is based on a site- and person-specific prototype design, which emerges from the discussions I have had about its conceptualization with different people in different places. These discussions are aimed at creating a critical engagement that relates to both Muslims and non-Muslims, in as much as the former should be incited to a more active sense of the meaning and responsibilities entailed by their visibility and integration in the West. At the same time, the varied interpretations and changing meanings of these pieces, including the very fact that they exist, should raise awareness about the diversity of Islamic cultures in the West and increase an understanding of the social dynamics between Muslims and non-Muslims.

This emphasis on the representation of individual -- rather than collective -- identity is particularly important to the work, since the project aims to undermine the common assumption that “Islam,” the “Middle East,” or the “West” are monolithic entities. It is thus crucial to find ways to present the cultural diversity of Muslim communities across the world, as they instantiate religious belief in a wide spectrum of different geographical and cultural contexts, which in turn creates a variety of religious and social practices. The different wearable mosque pieces point to the tremendous variety of Islamic identities, emphasizing the fact that people who associate themselves with Islam may have diametrically opposite worldviews.