What in the World Is ‘Garmenting?’ – WWD

The Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan is preparing for the first global investigation into the phenomenon of clothing.

The term refers to the use of clothing as a medium of visual art. Even guest curator Alexandra Schwartz isn’t exactly sure where the “dress” came from. He first heard the term from the artist Saya Woolfalk, with whom he did a solo exhibition about 10 years ago. “She didn’t know exactly where it came from either. He uses it to talk about his work. When we were talking about a title for the [MAD] show, I asked her if it would be OK if we used her term. He said for sure, “Schwartz said.” It works well enough to describe this phenomenon. “

The use of Woolfalk’s dress to talk about hybrid identities and cultural differences was an inspiration for the exhibition, as was Schwartz’s previous experience as a junior curator at MoMA working on a Louise Bourgeois exhibition that incorporated the work that l artist had made with old clothes. “Then I started seeing many artists using clothes all over the place, in museums, at art fairs. It was not really theorized or historicized except for a few small exhibitions “.

“Garmenting: Costumes as Contemporary Art” will be on show from 12 March to 14 August at the museum. The works of 35 established and rising artists will be showcased, including some that will be shown for the first time in the United States. Everyone has made or altered clothing to create garments, sculptures, installations and performance art. In addition to Woolfalk, Mary Sibande, Zoe Buckman, Yinka Shonibare, Jeffrey Gibson, Nick Cave and Jacolby Satterwhite are among the artists who will be in the spotlight.

“Today artists think in all different terms, use all kinds of mediums and think across disciplines. I’m interested in this breaking of the boundaries between art and fashion, art and design. It is particularly relevant now because so many artists are looking at their personal and cultural histories and how they dress the figures in those, ”Schwartz said.

Zoe Buckman’s installation “Every Curve” from 2016.
Courtesy of MAD

The goal is to use clothing as a means of examining issues of subjectivity, identity and difference. The work will be presented in five themes: functionality, gender, activism, cultural difference and performance. Sibande’s life-size piece “Domba Dance” is a favorite of Schwartz. Another highlight is a hoodie covered in silk flowers, rhinestones, sequins and jewels by Devan Shimoyama which is a tribute to Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old black teenager who wore a hoodie when he was shot to death. by George Zimmerman in 2012.

“Devan Shimoyama is a multiracial artist and he, like many people, was very upset by the murder of Trayvon Martin,” Schwartz said. “… Shimoyama took a hoodie found and the flowers, sequins and other embellishments refer to how there are these impromptu memorials that spring up all over the world, where people bring bouquets of flowers, candy, etc. He is using them and putting them together in this very moving and moving work. “

Recognizing how fashion exhibitions convey ever broader messages than clothing, art historian Schwartz said: “In art museums, at least, there is a sense that given what’s happening in the world, curators and other museum professionals really want to engage in this and help people process what is happening to create exhibits that people can relate to and touch their lives or make them look at their lives in a different way. Something that is An encouraging by-product of the pandemic was seeing how much people really need art and design and something bigger than themselves to make sense of what’s going on. “

Curators’ “greater urgency” to engage in bigger issues boils down to “trying to relate art to our daily lives and experiences, which right now include what is happening politically, suffering and isolation. caused by COVID-19 “and social justice problems, Schwartz said.

“The Donna Dance” by Mary Sibande

“The dance of the domba” by Mary Sibande.
Courtesy of MAD

Well aware of the intersection of art and fashion and the plethora of collaborations between artists and stylists, Schwartz said: “Artists seek fashion and designers seek art. All of these disciplines are becoming much more intertwined than they have been recently. Even if there is a historical precedent for this too, of course “.

Schwartz wonders if the onslaught of collaborations will reach a breaking point. Questioning how much of this is a trend, he said: “Of course, there are commercial benefits that need to be reaped by all. In broader terms, art and fashion are so intimately intertwined and always have been ».

As interested as Schwartz is in the serious historical problems that clothing faces, she noted that online shopping and fashion provide a respite. “I am also very happy to have some relief and fun through fashion.”

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