Agnes Richter’s jacket: hypertext before hypertext
Agnes Richter, a mental patient in Austrian asylum, embroidered her jacket with text. Through the script she transcribed herself into time, space and place. Her writing orients and disorients. Made in 1895, it is a standard issue uniform given to mental patients at the time. Richter has embroidered so intensively that reading impossible in certain areas of the garment. Words appear and disappear into seams and under layers of thread. There is no beginning or end, just spirals of intersecting fragmentary narratives. She is declarative: “I”, “mine”, “my jacket”, “my white stockings…., “I am in the Hubertusburg / ground floor”, “children”, “sister” and “cook”. In the inside she has written “1894 I am / I today woman”. She has also re-embroidered the laundry number printed on her jacket “ 583 Hubertusburg”, almost transforming something institutional and distant into something intimate, obsessive and possessive. It is a compelling piece of hypertext and untamed writing.