Performance costume, 'Red Xingu', fabric/feathers/aluminium/fibreglass/foam, designed by Jenny Kee, made by Ceremonies Costume Workshop, used in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, Sydney, 2000
This costume titled 'Red Xingu' features a feathered U shaped harness that attaches to a circular skirt supported by fibreglass rods. Several different varieties of red feathers are used in this costume, which is inspired by the 'okcadedie' headdresses with majestic radiating plumes worn by the descendants of the peoples of the Kaiapo Nation of Central Brazil. Inspiration for the costume was also drawn from the contemporary feather fantasies of the Rio Carnivale.
The costume featured on the Americas float in the Arrivals segment of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony and was worn by Paloma Jonas.
The costume was designed by Australian fashion and textile designer Jenny Kee and manufactured in the Ceremonies Costume Workshop. In describing her vision for this design Kee states 'the majestic use of feathers - linking man and nature. A salute to the strength of the peoples of Amazonia' Kee 2002
The Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Olympic Games was comprised of three major sections: the mandatory formalities and protocol sections, the cultural display and the entrance of the athletes. Within the cultural display, there were eight segments titled: Welcome, Deep Sea Dreaming, Awakening, Fire, Nature, Tin Symphony, Arrivals and Eternity.
This costume was used in the Arrivals segment of the Opening Ceremony. This segment aimed to produce a theatrical representation of Australia's multiculturalism. The programme for the Olympic Opening Ceremony states: The history of Australia is the history of migration. We have come from all corners of the planet to form a vibrant, culturally rich and constantly evolving society. In this segment, a new group of arrivals form the Olympic symbol that unites the five continents of the world. They disperse, leaving behind their children - our hope for the future. More children appear until two thousand gather to form the pattern of the night sky, containing the distinctive Southern Cross constellation.
The Arrivals segment saw five floats each representing a continent enter the arena. Each float carried performers in costumes inspired by the continent. The colours of the Olympic rings set the costume colours; black for the African nations, yellow for the Asian nations, red for the Americas, green for Europe and blue for Oceania, which includes Australia.
Fashion and film designers rather than theatrical designers were chosen to provide a contemporary, cutting edge, high fashion look to the costumes. The designers were Jenny Kee - Africa and Americas, Lisa Ho - Asia, Norma Moriceau - Europe and Peter Morrissey - Oceania.
Performers were selected from schools, community groups and from cultural and ethnic support groups. Approximately 500 performers danced around and on each of the five floats in the costumes created by the designers.
Jenny Kee (born Sydney 1947) is one of Australia's most significant and creative clothing and textile designers. Kee is best known for designing and retailing a unique range of colourful clothing and knitwear. Her work is characterised by the graphic and dynamic nature of her design style as well as her ability interpret cultural icons in a highly original way.
In the developing the designs for the Americas section Kee collaborated with Creative Consultant Jan Thornley, Costume Artist Paula Martin and team. They applied a rigorous research and design development process to realise the costumes for the Americas float. The diverse cultures and colourful history of the American continent provided inspiration for the costume designs. According to Kee the designs draw "thematic common links between North, South and Central Americas through nature, flora and fauna, art and craft - ancient and modern - symbols and icons. Showing interconnectedness of vibrant cultures - beyond borders. My work is dedicated with respect to the first peoples and present day diverse cultures which have evolved since the discovery of the New World." Kee 2002 Kee's inspiration was taken from a diverse range of iconic elements from the Americas. These include: Mexico Rose - the work of Lichtenstein - Warhol's 'Marilyn' - Bear Crossing - Salsa - Rio - Reggae - Jazz - Miles Davis - Maize - the Amazonian rainforest - toucans - the macaw - the rich rainbow colours of the ancient Mayan world - Route 66 - the maple leaf - the eagle - Navajo - Hopi - Kwakiutl - rock'n'roll - the Ohio Mound and Liberty.
With red as a palette base for the costumes, a colour symbolic to Kee of 'life and energy', Kee developed the 'Americas' textile design by creating a collage of nine of her paintings "I began with a series of paintings to express these thoughts and collaged them into the 'Americas' textile print. Every part of this design is an image of the Americas." Kee 2002 This method is typical of her design style and results in a vibrant and spontaneous explosion of colour and meaning. "From my paintings the costumes came - to express the heart and soul of the Americas" Kee 2002.
In describing her vision for the Red Xingu Kee states 'the majestic use of feathers - linking man and nature. A salute to the strength of the peoples of Amazonia' Kee 2002 Specifically taking her inspiration from the okcadedie' headdresses with majestic radiating plumes worn by the descendants of the peoples of the Kaiapo Nation of Central Brazil. Inspiration for the costume was also drawn from the contemporary feather fantasies of the Rio Carnivale.
Ceremonies Costume Workshop artists: Alison Bogg, Bettine Roynan and team - costume, Rosie Boylan - headdress, Chloe Simcox - masks.