Kaunjikastories is a further pursue of my thoughts about garments carrying on memories of their owners. My wardrobe is full of things I am associating with personal memories or have special meanings to me. It's always hard to part with them even if I have not worn them for a long time. The documentary The second hand road by the Italian moviemaker Raffaele Brunetti opened me a new perspective of what really happens to our donated second hand clothing. I became curious to find out more about it and started researching. I started a website www.kaunjikastories.com, which was working as an online archive for second hand clothing and included a rather small amount of 32 items. Before having donated them I tagged them with a label referring to the online archive. The website offered not only the possibility to find out more about the participating garments, but also to add information and to write on the stories of the garments. Therefore every single garment was provided with a number and a special code, so only the new owner could log in to edit the story. The labeled garments were donated to different Austrian and international charity organizations.
My initial interest in only personally related memories changed as my research expanded and broadened under certain factors. The trade with second hand clothing is enormous and difficult to overlook. The fact is, that garments within the secondhand trade move through different cultural areas and therefore through a range of different value systems in a cultural, social and economic perspective. As the number of participating clothes was quite small, my research, which presented me a further view on the ongoing globalization, plays an important role in my work. As the website is not online anymore, I could provide the text for anybody who is interested via mail.
The name Kaunjikastories is a composition of the english word stories and the word Kaunjika, which has its origin in the language Chichewa, a language of the Bantu-family in South- and Centralafrica and national language of Malawi. Kaunjika is used for the second hand clothing which comes from Europe or other places and sold in Malawi. Its original meaning is to pile up and refers to the way second hand clothing is sold in Malawi. The clothes are simply heaped on a mat and one has to rummage through to pick up the one that one likes. As I compose the two words, it becomes a doublemeaning. Either it can mean old clothes's stories or to pile up stories, which emphasizes the ulterior motive of my project. I like the fact that both words have its origin in totally different language families, because the trade of second hand clothing often reaches the most different cultural areas.