A glove story


by Rossella Salzillo

Gloves are undoubtedly useful. They prevent your hands from getting serious damages because of the cold, like so-called chilblains. They make you feel warm and comfortable, day and night when walking or riding your bike. In some other cases, they help you do your gardening without wounds. They may even serve as hygienic protection in the subway if you like.

Gloves are the quintessential example of usefulness. We rarely wear them merely as a fashion item. Of course, they can be beautiful – colourful, or good crafted. They can be made of really good wool or technical fabric or scented leather. That is why we want to keep them.

It’s November 13th, 2016 and I really want to buy a durable pair of gloves, as the ones I have are pretty worn out. Also, it is my birthday – I definitely deserve a treat. I bump into a stall as I am walking through an outdoor market in Neukölln. A bottle green leather pair of gloves with grey wool inside captures my attention. I take that.

It’s mid-January 2017 and I am riding my bike. It is unexpectedly warm, so I take my gloves off. Distractedly I stuff them in my jacket’s pocket while riding. At that point, I lose one of them. Terribly sad, I go back and forth on the route I have just ride through. Couldn’t find it. Nowhere.

Some weeks after, I am in Leipzig with a good friend of mine and we are talking about the short sad story of my lost glove. As I speak, we come across a bench and we sit. There, at my left, there is this glove:

glove story

Ideas and confusion, and more ideas and more confusion, assault my brain and stimulate my creativeness.

One year later, at the end of March 2018, I am sitting in my room with 34 pairs of gloves in front of me. Most of them (24) were found in Neukölln, while the rest of them come from Kreuzberg and Southern Mitte. Interestingly, ten gloves come from the street where I live, and eight out of ten were found just right in front of my house entrance.

I have been collecting alley-gloves: gloves lost by somebody while walking, riding, driving, being distracted, being late, being into a deep conversation with somebody else. I was willing to build an archive of lost gloves, and I have been scouring Berlin streets every day for one year with this aim; my eyes constantly looking straight to the ground in search of a hand-shaped piece of fabric. Surprisingly, it turned out that this serial kind of experience had also something to teach me.

So let’s try to summarize:

– Yes, we do lose that many gloves on the street. We generally lose just one of the two gloves. In fact, I found 32 single gloves and only two pairs of gloves. Interestingly, I found 11 left-handed and 11 right-handed gloves (of the remaining ones, it was not possible to identify which hand they belonged to).

– Either out of distraction or misplacement, we lose gloves both on the roadway while riding (15), and on the sidewalk, while walking (19).

– From this whole experience, I can assure you that gloves are the things we lose the most in the city streets. The second position goes to coins from 1 to 20 cents – but that is not so surprising, after all.

– Even though Winter is the best time to make up a lost gloves archive, gloves get lost in warmer temperatures too. In that case, they are not out of wool or cotton, nor leather; but rather of that typical fabric that coated work gloves are made of. I found six gloves like this in the summertime.

– A very few proportions of the gloves that I found (3) were children gloves. Children do not lose gloves that much. As a matter of fact, parents look after them, making sure they don’t lose anything. Nevertheless, parents have nobody who looks after themselves. Therefore, I hazard the following statement: adults lose more gloves than children.

-Organizing and collecting an archive is not difficult. You just have to establish some common parameters. I chose two basic ones: place of the finding and day of the finding (other parameters were: right-/left-handed, fabric, fashion style). I wanted to know, in a chronological order, where do people lose gloves, and if there is a chance they lose them in the same places. It turned out there is no such a thing. We lose gloves just as randomly as anyone could expect. I found so many of them in my neighbourhood because I live there. My neighbourhood is where I make my shopping every day, where I do sports and where I hang out. I found so many gloves along the street where I live just because I live there. I am aware of every leaf and every stone there.

By collecting 34 gloves of different colours, sizes, fabrics and textures, I realized I could start making up stories out of them. So I took my camera and tried to translate the magic power I felt this project gave me into a small photo-reportage: A Glove Story.

That’s exactly the way we prove that fashion is not just buying stuff we don’t need. Recycle and Epicycle, people, and all for a good cause!

All paintings in the pictures are by Rossella Salzillo and May Nam.

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