台北當代藝術館 官方網站 Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei

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流行的意外 Fashion Accidentally

 
展覽名稱 Exhibit

流行的意外 Fashion Accidentally

展覽時間 Date

2007/05/26-07/22

展覽地點 Venue

台北當代藝術館 MOCA Taipei

策展人 Curator

胡朝聖 Sean Hu

參展藝術家 Artists

妮可拉‧康士坦丁諾(Nicola Costantino)、E. V. DAY、娜匝克特‧艾克琪(Nezaket Ekici)、辛琳‧吉爾(Simryn Gill)、 席帕‧古塔(Shilpa Gupta)、荷西‧安東尼奧‧何南德茲-迪也茲(José Antonio Hernández-Diez)、何孟娟、梅拉‧嘉思瑪(Mella Jaarsma)、康居易(Susan Kendzulak)、吳鼎武(瓦歷斯‧拉拜)、森村泰昌(Yasumasa Morimura)、碧悠畢露(Pyuupiru)、因卡‧修尼巴爾(Yinka Shonibare)、隋建國(Sui Jianguo)、王九思(Jeffrey Wang)

貼心小叮嚀 Note

本展適合闔家觀賞 This exhibition is for general public.

展覽介紹 About the Exhibition

 

近年來,在社會風氣與媒體報導推波助瀾之下,討論以及追求流行時尚文化似乎成了一種全球運動,從政要名流到凡夫俗子,均前仆後繼地藉由流行物件展現自身的品味、美感和身分地位,希冀在社會情境與同儕之中尋求自我價值與認同。流行文化的力道,足以在當代文化變遷的歷程中,留下不可等閒視之的足跡。

提及流行文化的構成要素,服裝自然是最顯而易見、滲透既廣且深的一環。服裝不再只是保護身體與美化外觀的生活必需品,服裝已成為一種社會現象──亦即人們用來表達各種想法、慾望與信念的美學媒介;在流行/服裝的表象之下,投射的是深刻的社會議題與群眾心理;在人人對服裝有一套既定想像的背後,隱藏著許多超乎認知的「意外」,因而成為藝術家豐富的創作題材。

台北當代藝術館「流行的意外」展覽,以服飾與符號學做為展覽論述基礎與架構,深入地思考並觀看當代藝術家如何藉由服裝──作為一種符號、載體、媒介或平台──對應全球化語境底下文化發展的多元樣態,關照與反思當代人類關注的課題,如:性別、身分認同、文化殖民、種族、生死、階級、勞力剝削、環保、流行消費等文化議題,建構並展現社會文化的真實狀況,從而形構出一種當代全球文化的切面與輪廓,提供觀者面對服裝時有不同層次的審視與思考。

「流行的意外」展覽邀集十五位來自包括台灣在內的十一國藝術家展出,將於2007年5月26日起在台北當代藝術館隆重登場。參展藝術家計有:妮可拉‧康士坦丁諾(Nicola Costantino)、E. V. DAY、娜匝克特‧艾克琪(Nezaket Ekici)、辛琳‧吉爾(Simryn Gill)、 席帕‧古塔(Shilpa Gupta)、荷西‧安東尼奧‧何南德茲-迪也茲(José Antonio Hernández-Diez)、何孟娟、梅拉‧嘉思瑪(Mella Jaarsma)、康居易(Susan Kendzulak)、吳鼎武(瓦歷斯‧拉拜)、森村泰昌(Yasumasa Morimura)、碧悠畢露(Pyuupiru)、因卡‧修尼巴爾(Yinka Shonibare)、隋建國(Sui Jianguo)、王九思(Jeffrey Wang)。

Fashion Accidentally is an attempt to encourage the public to contemplate how contemporary artists reflect on the issue of fashion itself, in the context of globalization and through clothing as a medium or an interfact. The range of subject matter addressed is impressively varied; body politics, racism, class struggle, self-identity, national politics, cultural colonialism, labor exploitation in poor countries, over consumption in rich countries and the consequential environmental crises in the so called post-globalization era. The exhibition touches on all of these hot button issues.      

策展論述 Curatorial Statement

文/胡朝聖/策展人

「流行既是過於嚴肅的,同時又是過於輕浮的」(1)羅蘭巴特(Roland Barthes)

猶記一九九七年於紐約蘇活古根漢美術館參觀一個名為「藝術/時尚」的特展,該展以當代藝術與服裝設計配對的方式呈現,兩相巧妙結合,讓人記憶深刻;而這美好的視覺經驗三年後如回魂般再次被召喚起,這都起因於P.S.1 「大紐約」展和惠特尼雙年展中的一位參展藝術家E.V. Day的作品所致,當時眼前那璀燦卻破碎的華美服飾,有如天外飛來的意外力道向我打來,這才發覺,原來藝術以服裝作為媒材表達的方式居然可以如此切中、精準而饒富詩意。後來經由研究發現藝術與時尚在過去兩個世紀相互援引的合作關係早已經不是什麼新鮮事:從十九世紀中葉起,路易.威登就已陸續與印象派藝術家莫內、雷諾瓦、竇加、塞尚等人在產品的開發上合作過;二十世紀的三〇年代,被香奈兒女士視為勁敵的設計師爾莎.夏芭瑞莉邀請達利、曼.雷以及杜象等人針對相關布料以及飾品提出研發與創意概念;六〇年代,服裝史上的經典款式「蒙德里安裝」由聖羅蘭發表;九〇年代,日本設計師三宅一生曾與荒木經惟、森村泰昌合作,甚至與蔡國強共同展出爆破服裝計畫而驚爆一時;到了二十一世紀的這幾年,時尚集團LVMH與村上隆和林明弘的相互結盟,更是每每被提及的經典案例。由此可見,這一股跨界的潮流逐漸席捲全球,兩個領域在歷史發展上的結合成為某種必然的趨勢,儘管我們發覺到這樣的跨界基本上都還停留在流行產業與藝術創造的視覺和造型奇觀,並以此促進行銷和販賣的目的,但卻還是為彼此建立了積極合作的管道;服裝做為一種物件、符號或是媒介,其牽涉到的文化議題以及作為創作媒材的可親性,卻讓藝術家在藝術發展的脈絡上有了多元豐碩的呈現,也成了「流行的意外」策劃的一個遠因。

這幾年來,在社會風氣的簇擁與媒體競相的報導下,討論以及追求流行(2)時尚文化似乎成了一種全球運動,從政治人物、明星、上班族,到年輕學子,我們看到了大眾藉由身上的流行物件展現自身的品味、美感和身分地位,在社會情境與同儕之中找尋自我價值與認同,而時尚的影響力更是滲透到社會文化的各個層面,可以説當代文化的發展與呈現,相當程度地以流行文化的變化作為其主要動力,而造成的因素多少與都市集中化、大眾媒體的崛起、資本主義、全球化以及工業化的過程息息相關,對於我們生活的影響更是巨大,從 食、衣、住、行、育、樂各個領域內,無所不在地充斥著其影響力。提及流行文化的構成要素時,一般來説以服裝、音樂以及飲食等為最主要的元素,而由於長期以來服裝與當代藝術有著某種競合關係的現象逐漸白熱化,再加上多年來筆者對於服裝設計、產業以及其背後豐富的文化意涵有著個人濃厚的興趣與觀察,在這樣的關聯下也就順理成章地將服裝作為策畫「流行的意外」時所欲探討的主軸,並期待透過不同藝術創作觀看其延伸的豐富文化議題。

除了大家熟知的基本功能外,服飾作為一種生活必需品,可以被探討與挖掘的內在意涵絕對超乎大部分使用者的想像與理解。法國社會學家羅蘭.巴特 曾説:服裝的作用不僅在於遮體和保暖,而且也帶有交換訊息的功能」,這意味著我們藉由服裝與他人進行溝通;而英國社會學家威爾森(Elizabeth Wilson)在其重要著作《穿戴美夢:流行與現代化(Adorned in Dreams : Fashion and Modernity)》中則將服裝視為一種社會現象—亦即某種人們用來表達社會周遭各種想法、慾望與信念的美學媒介;經由服裝,人們不但可以了解不同的人性紋路、文化肌理,它更是「永遠伴隨整個社會進化的步伐,成為各個社會歷史階段文化、生產能力以及生活方式的最敏感的表現形式」(3)。

爰此,以服飾與符號學做為展覽基礎與架構,「流行的意外」欲傳達以及呼應的是深入地思考與觀看全球當代藝術家如何藉由服裝作為一種符號、載體、媒介或平台,對應全球化語境底下文化發展的多元樣態,以及經由藝術創作延伸出包含生死、性別、身分認同、文化殖民、種族、階級、勞力剝削、環保、流行消費等文化議題,建構並展現社會文化的真實狀況,從而形構出一種當代的全球文化切面與輪廓,提供觀者面對服裝時能夠產生不同層次的審視與思考,而不再僅是停留在探討時尚V.S.藝術雙向策略性的結合,與其誘發性的流行消費行為而已。

靈魂的昇華與淨化

相信在人類的生活中沒有一個物件比衣服更貼近人體,我們無時無刻不受到它的擁抱與呵護,它「是皮膚之外最重要的人體生活的外圍標誌…在人的肉體生活和精神生活中,永遠起著不可取代的作用」(4)。透過服裝,我們表達了內心的喜怒哀樂;透過服裝,我們説話、呼吸、思念、哀傷,它儼然成為人類面臨生老病死過程時的另類精神寄託與感情投射物。來自日本的碧悠畢露於本展首次呈現的新作【祖母】,以服裝外觀作為創作概念,呈現藝術家個人對於摯愛的祖母生命逝去的悼念,用象徵永不凋萎的塑膠花所組裝成的衣冠塚,掩蓋那曾經無所不在的傷痛與死亡進而藉由生死體驗悟出死亡其實就是生命的無限延伸,不是終結,而是另一個起點,碧悠畢露經由創作完成一場自我治療、撫慰以及靈魂昇華與淨化的精神儀式。

從裝扮到自我身份的追尋與再確認

個體為確認身分與尋求認同經常利用外觀使自己歸屬某種文化族群,依據服裝社會學的分析,服裝與流行可以幫助性別與角色的社會化過程,它們協助塑造男性和女性應有的外貌,亦是對於男、女性的態度與印象被創造和複製的部份過程;一如巴特所説:『流行「戲弄」的是人類意識中最嚴肅的主題(我是誰?)』,因此,在追求自我認同與身份定位的過程中,角色扮演成了一種有效的彰顯方式之一。從社會心理學的角度分析,角色扮演意味著個體之間可以彼此置身他人處境,設想對方的身份、行為與思想。這也是一種認知歷程,它可以促使收訊者產生一種心理建構,這心理建構不僅包含了發訊者自身的角色,更涵括了他的身份,以及其連結互動歷程所處的社會情境。

曰本藝術家森村泰昌的【自畫像(女優)】系列作品,以自我身體對西方影壇的經典女星角色進行擬仿扮演,表達西方強勢流行與影像文化對於東方國家的無形殖民與壓迫,藉由男扮女裝呈現出一種彼長我消的深刻價值判斷;再來,這些西方女星在國際媒體不斷強力放送下,產生了一種巨大的女性形象與 影響力量,對於強調男子漢氣概的東方男性,不啻產生了被閹割的焦慮情結;然而對藝術家而言,更吊詭的應該算是形塑這些女性形象背後的凝視目光與慾望來源卻主要來自於西方白種男性本身,這一來一往之間又突顯了錯綜複雜的性別與文化關係。作品在藝術家高超的化妝技巧下,卻刻意留下一些破綻,產生某種滑稽的效(笑)果,但這樣輕易的被識破卻也是藝術家想要在這樣的關係中,突顯那氣若游絲的自我意識。

另外一個關於角色扮演(藝術家説明沒有扮演這回事,強調自己就是白雪公主)的創作,白雪公主服裝在何孟娟的挪用與穿著行為之下,成為用來 建構、表現以及複製理想女性特質的中介,只是在現實生活中不同女性角色(大環境)與白雪公主(理想典型)的互動過程中,藝術家揭露並強迫大家面對所謂的「白雪公主」現象,以此顛覆社會傳統對於女性角色的期待與認知,提供女性從不同角度檢視與觀看自己,而她展出的攝影裝置【完美生活】 就如同照妖鏡般赤裸地反射了女性心中的恐懼、焦慮與慾望,無所遁形。

後殖民的文化失根現象: 文化自治權喪失的焦慮感與無從定位的文化認同

同樣涉及身份議題,因卡.修尼巴爾、辛琳.吉爾以及吳鼎武.瓦歷斯在作品中則反映了個人以及國(種)族在面對全球化現象時面臨身份消失的危機感,如同後現代主義理論家詹明信(Federic Jameson)所閫述的「文化自治權的喪失」,一整套的文化掉進廣大的世界裡,變得無法將自我定位於其中,在這樣的過程中,人的存在將喪失歷史脈絡和傳統的皈依。

因卡藉由印有象徵非洲蠟染圖騰的西式獵服裝置作品【獵犬】,創造了一 種極具戲劇張力與衝突的視覺經驗。眼見被追殺的狐狸在弱肉強食世界裡面對的物競天擇,也讓人體驗到非洲弱勢文化在面臨西方強勢文化入侵時,無形的壓迫、恐怖與肅殺氣氛;而諷刺的是,代表著非洲文化的蠟染圖騰是由荷蘭在殖民印尼時期發現並流通出來的,爾後這些圖騰傳到非洲並被在地人採用成為突顯自我認同的文化符碼(5)。在【獵犬】中,藝術家呈現非洲在殖民統治結束之後以及全球化時代來臨,所面臨的文化、歷史、跨國消費以及權力之間複雜、矛盾的關係。

自馬來西亞移民至澳洲的辛琳.吉爾擅長於以隨手可得的物件表達個人 在面對跨國文化之間深沉的文化認同課題。藝術家在【搞定了】以及【漫遊者】的作品呈現上,以亞洲特有的熱帶水果香蕉與椰子作為素材,在創作的過程中,將其轉化為西方社會男女典型的刻版外觀形象一西裝與金髮,用一種促狹、引人發噱的方式,配戴、穿著在其亞洲友人身上,用以凸顯當代亞洲文化套用並認同歐美異國文化後,呈現的普遍價值觀與社會景象,既真實又荒謬。

相較於奈及利亞/英國、馬來西亞/澳洲等異國之間的文化糾葛,台灣原住 民面臨的文化殖民問題相形複雜,不只漢人強勢文化幾百年來的深度影響, 美、日外來文化的再次殖民更是雪上加霜,台灣原住民族在全球化的進程中如履薄冰地面臨了母語喪失、生存空間、基本人權、文化自主權、主體意識及文化認同等問題。瓦歷斯的【隱形計畫之虛擬原住民系列】作品,將全世界各地原住民的服裝與五官圖像經由電腦後製處理,成為一組看似熟悉但實則面目全非的虛擬圖像,觀者不容易於當下指出差異,只覺得所有的一切似曾相識但卻遙遠陌生;藉由拼貼的肖像以及相較於瀕臨絕種動物受到的大量關注,藝術家表達出台灣和他國的原住民同樣正面臨文化消失的危機,而其生存狀態則顯得更為虛無而蒼涼。

傳統服飾的延伸與變異

全球化是否意味著服裝(或是文化)也開始進入同質化的過程以及獨特性的意義失落?如何藉由傳統民族服飾表達在地文化、美學與意識型態,也成為許多國家堅持自我形象和抵抗全球化潮流的一種特殊國際文化角力現象。因此,觀看這些特殊傳統服飾時,我們考慮的除了外觀符號的基本訊息外,可能還必須深入政治、宗教或是社會各個面向,需要的是對不同文化與情境的敏感度和思考,而不是單向式的予以標籤化而錯過了不同層次的解讀。荷蘭籍的梅拉嘉思瑪居住印尼長達二十多年,以西方女性的身份進入異國文化的脈絡中,發展出一系列以回教傳統女性面紗作為與外在社會和全球對話的作品【追隨者】。在材質上使用收集自政治、宗教與運動等象徵階級地位的各種俱樂部的徽章符碼,編織成兼具「庇護所」和「監獄」雙重涵義的面罩裝置,表達印尼這個回教國家內部複雜的政治、種族、宗教與性別議題。在後911時代,尤其二〇〇二年峑里島爆炸案之後,全球或是以西方馬首是瞻的國際聯盟組織對於回教徒等同於恐怖份子的單向思考與污名化作為,嘉思瑪以創作提出了發人深省的反思。

中國藝術家隋建國在作品【彩虹衣缽】裡,將孫逸仙的革命形象延伸至物 質性的服裝語彙中,透過百年文化歷史的沉澱、政治環境與思潮的變遷,以及 藝術觀念的再現,讓「中山裝」這個具有強烈政治符號的服裝有了全然不同的 證釋,再加上藝術家從披頭四名為胡椒士官(Sergeant Pepper)的唱片封面得 到的靈感,讓原本深沉、灰暗的服裝,像瞬間得到靈光般的變身,凸顯出當代 中國人在面對改革開放與擁抱世界的同時,逐漸擺脱有如幽魂般的傳統歷史束 縛(革命情結與共產主義),而接受西方資本主義的思想體系洗禮。

全球資本主義下之勞力剝削

説穿了,服裝的呈現不就是一種身份的外顯,我們常藉由服裝的類別來區分人在整個經濟體系裡的價值與階級,比如白、藍或粉領。委內瑞拉籍的荷西何南德茲迪亞茲在作品中呈現的服裝種類,從T-恤、球鞋到牛仔褲都有,這看似再普通不過的休閒風格,已成為大家一致服膺的某種「制服」,是全球化(美國化)的流行共主,世界在它們(西方資本主義)的連結下達成統一千秋大業。從這些製品,我們看到帶有後資本主義式的生產模式一由索取高額設計費的設計師設計產品,再經由代工國家的廉價人力製成產品,最後由跨國企業以大量廣吿行銷販賣售價昂貴的商品,獲取高利潤的生產脈絡;藝術家身處的委內瑞拉,便是其中低債代工的勞工社會(6),這些代工們在辛勤工作之後所換得的報酬,卻可能無法買得起任何一件自己曾經在工廠製作的衣服,權力和義務的交換關係嚴重失衡,有的只是無從改變被剝削的事實。何南德茲.迪亞茲的作品中以一種混亂且詩意的影像呈現出無奈、哀傷的氣質,隱約表達了藝術家對全球化、資本主義、勞動、經濟支配與區域發展不均等問題的無奈控訴。

流行著魔,消費至上?

相對於全球貿易下創造的無數廉價代工,在依賴資本主義養分的流行世界裡,有一群人則努力地進行物質消費,服裝在其中扮演著無所不能的力量,讓所有追求時尚的人都進入一種著魔的狀態,只要是流行的都是好的;我們也看到流行在自己的世界中發展出一套自己的邏輯,建構出一種自足的系統,「在流行中,存在和名稱、標記和好的、概念和合理性是完全一致的。説出來的即是合理的,進一步講,合理的就是真實的」(7);在流行帝國中,設計師就像是大帝、君王般武斷地頒布律令,流行的子民們只能照單全收,羅蘭.巴特再次説了「這就是命」(8),「我們很清楚的看到了流行的現實本質就是建立流行的武斷性」(9),流行賦予自身一種無上的權利,一種現在超越過去的自然權力,人類在時尚帝國之下顯得無比渺小與謙卑。

為了對帝王般的流行表現無上的尊崇,人們用無數的流行服飾來膜拜,而衣櫃成了家中隨時與之靈通的神寵;德國籍土耳其裔的娜匝克特.艾克琪藉由【衣櫃】行為表演,將象徵著滿滿時尚慾望的衣櫃中的衣服一件件套在身上’,直至衣櫃清空,而她本人則成了一個被層層服裝包裹的恐怖異形,活生生成為流行世界裡的「時尚受害者」,在不停的消費過程中被慾望壓制著無法動彈。整個概念藉由表演呈現,深刻地刻劃出服裝在女性生活的支配性角色以及包括男性在內的現代人無可救藥的消費慾望。同樣是提出現代人對流行消費文化的執迷,台灣藝術家王九思挪用了傳統中國人對於孝順的終極觀念二十四孝,將故事中的父母角色轉化成流行,以一種誇張、幽默而精準的嘲諷手法,陳述他對現代人追求流行的種種荒謬行徑。

面對人類貪婪的物質消費慾望,除了使自己深陷時尚泥沼而無法自拔,更如同蝗蟲過境,讓自然與生態環境面臨浩劫,無一倖免。阿根廷藝術家妮可拉.康士坦丁諾藉由消費場域的再現,以及經由擬仿人類皮膚布料的設計,與採用真人毛髮的服裝,讓觀者以穿著的方式,體驗人類為了滿足自我慾望的同時,對於生命的殘忍與不尊重。

迷彩化的戰爭本色

儘管有越來越多人如同義勇軍般投入社會環境的保護和改造工作,但放眼全球,許多地域也正飽受代表國家權力的軍隊入侵之苦,因為不同的信仰、種族或政治對立而爆發慘絕人寰的戰爭,更可悲的是這些戰爭每天還持續不斷地發生,不知何時才能終結!拜戰爭之賜,迷彩裝這種具保護自我與欺騙敵人特殊目的服裝居然成為全球年輕人普遍接受的時尚風格,不論穿著者心中是否刻意贊成或反對戰爭,但我們卻總是在熟悉的街頭巷尾中看到這些迷彩裝而產生某種錯亂的感覺。印度籍藝術家席帕.古塔在其名為【無題】的多媒體互動裝置中,讓影像裡穿著時髦迷彩裝的女子依觀者的滑鼠操控做出各式各樣的荒謬姿勢手勢,作品使人想起兒時的戰爭遊戲或是軍事訓練,在觀者與作品的遊戲式互動過程中,藝術家表達了即使是藉由遊戲,我們都在有意無意中暴露了控制他人的慾望以及接受被人統治的可能性,凸顯無心的暴力與恐怖主義的內化傾向。

從貼身到變身:女性、愛情、衣服的親蜜拉鋸

猶記台灣斯迪麥口香糖在十多年前的經典廣吿詞『女性主義説:「女性就是敗在愛情跟衣服上的」』,話雖簡短,而內容也不見得人人贊同,但卻反應出女性生活中相當程度的真實狀況與某種無法擺脱的困境。美國籍藝術家康居易將女性對於物質的愛恨矛盾演繹為人際相處複雜情緒,經由【愛/恨】做了相當貼切的表達;展場競技台上,兩位觀眾身著緊連的服裝道具與拳擊套,從遊戲的互動過程中,呈現了剪不斷,理還亂,既複雜又綿密的愛情世界,對應到錄像裡真實拳擊的暴力相向,原本看似輕盈幽默的連結,卻在當下產生了一種難以言喻的沉重與心理的暴力。

而女人與服裝之間似乎永遠連著一個看不見的臍帶,在六、七〇年代所謂的 「胸罩的燃燒者」,因為當時女性主義的先驅者普遍認為女性的不自由以及被桎梏,與服裝多少都有著難以劃分的關係,進而將這燃燒胸罩的行為視為一種女性解放運動。美國籍E.V. Day的【香奈兒/變身】裝置作品,不禁讓人聯想到這個著名的歷史典故。原本身著在另一位合作的女性藝術家坎布拉.菲勒(10)身上的香奈兒套裝,在E.V. Day極具暴力美學的處理下,將優雅的名牌服裝以支離破碎的視覺語彙重現,並以透明魚線向外支撐,成為放射狀爆炸般的立體雕塑,而菲勒在變身獲得神力後,有如黑寡婦或女超人般的張狂和警吿姿態,在蜘蛛網狀的服裝前,有著一種生物面臨危機時的本能防衛表情,呈現出女性自主的力量,同時也反映了當代女性身處的複雜處境。

流行是個意外嗎?

羅蘭_巴特在四十年前曾説過「流行既是過於嚴肅的,同時又是過於輕浮的」,一如流行產業的經典名句「流行時尚之深邃,正在於其膚淺」,在這個產業裡,每個人都藉由服裝與他者對話,也都用自己的方式建構出他或她的流行世界,以及其中的哲學、邏輯和規則。透過「流行的意外」,我們看到了來自不同國家的藝術家們,利用服裝這個文化載體,以不同的形式回應他們每天生活的世界,這個包含了公平/不公平、生/死、愛/恨、迷惘/貪婪、掙扎/恐懼、荒謬/真實的世界,而其實這樣的現實天天都在我們周遭上演,不管 是用何種方式呈現,相信流行所延伸出的絕對不只是流行而已,它也絕對超出我們的想像之外,是個意外嗎?應該不是吧!看過展覽之後,或許我們可以發現這些服裝從來就不是流行線上的分岔路,只是我們忘了或從未正視它們具體而微的巨大提醒能力。

                                              

Fashion Accidentally—Look Whose Attire is Talking

By Sean Hu

Fashion is both overly serious and superficial O Roland Barthes

I remember well attending a special exhibition titled "Art/Fashion" at New York's Guggenheim Museum in 1997, an exhibition that juxtaposed contemporary art with fashion design. This clever pairing was impressive. Three years later, this fine visual experience once again beckoned like a phantom, all due to the works of E.V. Day, a participating artist at the P.S. 1 "Greater New York" exhibition and the "Whitney Museum's Biennial". The bright yet tattered fine clothes hit me like an unexpected force hurtling from out of the distance, waking me to the notion that clothing as a medium of artistic expression could be so apropos, precise, and richly poetic. Of course, upon further investigation I discovered that the collaborative relationship between art and fashion over the last two centuries was nothing new: as long ago as the middle of the nineteenth century, Louis Vuitton had worked with artists associated with Impressionism like Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, and Paul Cezanne on the development of his designs. In the 1930s, Elsa Schiaparelli, whom Ms. Chanel considered a fierce rival; enlisted Salvador Dali, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp to contribute creative concepts to the development of materials and accessories. Yves Saint Laurent unveiled the Mondrian Dress in the 1960s, a classic design in fashion history. In the 1990s Japanese designer Issey Miyake collaborated with Araki Nobuyoshi and Yasumasa Morimura; and caused a sensation with the exploding clothing project exhibited with visual artist Cai Guo-qiang. And now in the early twenty-first century, the fashion group LVMH has formed alliances with Takashi Murakami and Michael Lin, their works frequently cited as classic cases.

Clearly, one can see how this cross-field trend is sweeping the globe, in some ways the coming together of the fields representing an inevitable histori­cal trend, even if we find that the cross-pollination remains essentially limited to the visual impact and unusual look of the fashion industry and art. Although it furthers marketing and sales aims, it also establishes avenues of active coopera­tion; as an article, signifies or medium, the cultural issues touched upon by apparel and its approachability as a creative medium allow the artist a richer variety of approaches to art, while also becoming an implicit contributing factor to the curation of the FASHION ACCIDENTALLY exhibition.

Prompted by societal popularity and the media scrambling for scoops, in recent years discussing and pursuing fashion and popular culture © has seem­ingly become a national pastime. From political figures and movie stars, to working professionals and young students, we observe that the public exhibits its own tastes, aesthetic sense, and status via the fashionable articles worn on the body, looking for values and identity within the social context and among peers. The influence of fashion penetrates throughout all strata of society and culture, so that it could be said that the development and expression of contemporary culture to a considerable degree takes changes in popular culture as its chief driving force. The underlying factors are generally related to urban collectivism, the rise of popular media, and the processes of capitalism; globalization, and industrialization. Exerting a huge impact on our lives, their impact is felt on every level throughout our sustenance, attire, shelter, transpor­tation, education, and recreation. Naturally, when the contributing factors of popular culture are brought up, the discussion usually involves clothing, music, and culinary factors. And due to the progressively heated competitive and cooperative relationships between clothing and contemporary art over the years, plus my long-term personal interest and observation of clothing design, industry, and the rich cultural meaning behind it, it was only a matter of course that I made clothing a main thread of investigation in the planning of the FASHION ACCIDENT ALL /exhibition, and am keen to observe the outgrowth of rich cultural subjects from art.

Apart from the basic functions with which we are all familiar, as one of life's essentials the inner meaning of attire can be explored and probed in ways far beyond the imagination and understanding of most users. French sociologist Roland Barthes said, "The effect of clothing is not limited to covering and keeping the body warm, including the function of information exchange. This implies that we communicate with others through our attire. In her vital work, "Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity", British sociologist Elizabeth Wilson saw clothing as a sort of social phenomenon - an aesthetic medium through which people express their thoughts, desires, and beliefs about the society around them. Through clothing people familiarize themselves with different human and cultural textures and qualities, but attire "always accompanies the pace of social progress, becoming the most responsive form of expression of culture, productive capacity, and lifestyle at each social-historical stage."®

Proceeding from here, with clothing and semiotics as the exhibition's foundation and structure, FASHION ACCIDENTALLY seeks to convey and call for deeper reflection and observation of how contemporary artists around the world use clothing as a symbol, vehicle, medium or platform, examine it in relation to the diverse forms of cultural development under the language of globalism, and through the assorted cultural issues precipitated through art - including life and death, the sexes, self identity; cultural colonialism, race, class, exploitation of labor, environmentalism, and fashion consumption - to establish and express the authentic state of culture and society. And from there, to configure a contemporary global cultural cross section and outline to provide observers different levels of assessment and consideration of attire, rather than standing in place and exploring the two-way strategic alliance of fashion versus art and the cultural consumption brought out therein.

Sublimation and Purification of the Soul

Probably no other object is closer to the human body in our daily lives than clothing. Embraced and protected by it at all times, it "is the most important external emblem in our physical life other than the skin... it exercises an unmatched effect in human physical and spiritual life." ©Through our attire, we express the full range of human emotions. We speak, breathe, think, and grieve through clothing, making it an alternate spiritual anchor and emotional projec­tion as people confront the natural cycle of life from birth to death. The latest work by Japanese artist Pyuupiru, Grandmother uses the appearance of clothing as a creative concept to show her mourning over the death of his beloved grandmother, covering the ubiquitous pain and death with clothing made from plastic flowers representing perpetual blossoming, and through this experience of life and death becoming enlightened to the notion that death is actually a boundless extension of life 一 a beginning rather than an end 一 and to engage in self-therapy; comforting, sublimation of the soul, and a ritual of spiritual cleansing through art.

From Dressing to the Quest for Self-identity and Reaffirmation

In order to affirm status and seek identity, individuals often use outward appearance to fit into a cultural group. According to the sociology of clothing, attire and fashion can aid the socialization process of gender and social roles; it helps form the appearances that males and females are expected to have, meaning part of the process of creation and reproduction of male and female attitudes and images. As Barthes said, "Fashion 'pla/ is the most serious theme of human consciousness (who am I?)〃 Consequently, over the course of seeking self-identity and status, role-playing becomes an effective method of manifes­tation. From the perspective of social psychology, role-playing implies putting oneself in another's place, thinking about the other person's identity, conduct, and thinking. A journey of awareness, it can help the receiver generate a psychological construction that not only entails the transmitter's own role, but encompasses his identity and the social context with which he interacts.

In his Self-Portrait (Actress) series, Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura dresses up himself as famous female movie star roles from Western films, expressing the intangible colonization and oppression of Asian countries under the onslaught of Western fashion and image culture. By cross-dressing in female roles, he presents penetrating value judgments on this unbalanced relationship. Moreover, the incessant transmission of these Western starlets' images in the global media has engendered formidable female imagery and impact that, for Asian males who traditionally emphasize machismo, triggers a kind of castration complex. Regardless, for the artist, even more paradoxical is that the gazing looks and desires that help form and prop up these female images come from white Western males - a back-and-forth relationship that calls attention to complex gender and cultural relationships. Under his phenomenal makeup skills, the artist deliberately leaves certain flaws, resulting in comical effects. However, allowing himself to be easily found out is one way in which the artist highlights his flowing self-consciousness amidst these relationships.

In another example of role playing (although the artist's statement gives no mention of playing roles, stressing instead that she is Snow White); Ho Meng-chuan's appropriation and wearing of Snow White garb becomes a medium for establishing, expressing, and reproducing "ideal" female qualities. However, over the course of interaction between female roles (the greater environment) and Snow White (the ideal archetype); the artist forces people to confront the so-called "post-Snow White" phenomenon: that is, there is no such thing as eternal fortune or happiness in this world; rather, we must face up to the realities of life and offer women different ways to scrutinize and observe themselves. Ho Meng-Chuan's Perfect Life installation starkly reflects the fear, anxiety, and desires of women, laying bare the notion that there is nowhere to hide from them.

Post-colonial Cultural Deracination: Anxiety over Loss of Cultural Sovereignty and Elusive Cultural Identity

Similarly touching upon identity issues; the works of Yinka Shonibare and Simryn Gill, along with Diing-Wuu Wu Walis, reflect the sense of crisis of the individual and nationality (race or people) facing the loss of identity in the face of globalization. As post-modern theorist Fredric Jameson elucidated regarding the loss of cultural sovereignty, an entire array of culture fell into the great wide world; within such a culture where we cannot find ourselves, under such a process, people are liable to lose a sense of history or tradition.

Yinka's installation, Hound, features wax print fabrics with patterns that symbolize modern African identity on typically Western attire to create a visual experience invested with dramatic tension and conflict. Seeing the fox pursued in this dog-eat-dog world imparts on the viewer a feeling of the pervasive oppressive, fearful, murderous atmosphere African culture faces under the encroachment of Western culture. Ironically, the wax-print patterns representing African culture were first found in inlndonesia and introduced to Western African market during Dutch colonial rule over these two regions, and were subsequently adopted by Africans as cultural iconography to highlight their cultural identity ®. In Hound, the artist shows the complex, conflicting cultural; historical, multinational consumption, and power relationships at play in Africa since the end of colonial rule and under the impact of globalization.

Simryn Gill, a Malaysian living in Australia, uses found objects to express deep issues of cultural identity as she confronts trans-cultural experience. In Out of My Hair and Wonderlust, the artist uses typically tropical fruits like bananas and coconuts and transforms them through the creative process into stereotypical Western figures with blonde hair or attired in suits. In mocking, scornful fashion, the artist places these articles on Asian friends to call attention to how the adoption and acceptance of the western culture has enabled it to become manifested in values and society. The presentation is both authentic and absurd.

Compared to the cultural entanglements of Nigeria/England or Malaysia /Australia, the cultural colonialism of Taiwan's aboriginal population is relatively complex. In addition to centuries of the influence of dominant Han Chinese culture, re-colonization under US and Japanese culture has added further dimensions to this subjugation. As globalization continues its inexorable progress, Taiwanese aborigines tread delicately, facing the loss of their mother tongues, living space, basic human rights, cultural sovereignty; subjective consciousness, and cultural identity. In Walis's series of works, Invisible Project - Virtual Indigenous People, the artist processes with computer images of costumes and complexions of aboriginees all over the world, turning these images into a set of seemingly familiar, but in fact unrecognizable pseudo images. At first glance the viewer may find it difficult to identify the differences in these images, as everything looks seemingly familiar and alien at the same time. By collaging these images, the artist reveals the crisis currently confront­ing the aboriginees of Taiwan as well as other countries; as these cultures are now close to extinction. This bleak situation appears particularly lamentable and hollowing when compared with the situation of animals; as the endangered species seem to receive far more attention than the aboriginal populations.

Extension and Variation of Traditional Apparel

Does the approach of globalization necessarily mean that apparel (or culture) is also beginning to enter a process of homogenization and loss of distinctiveness? The issue of how to express local culture, aesthetics, and ideology through traditional national dress has turned into an unusual cultural tug of war between countries that stand firm on their self-image and in resisting the tide of globalization. Consequently, in viewing these unique traditional ways of dressing, in addition to the basic message of outward symbols, we considered that an in-depth look at various aspects across politics, religion, or society requires sensitivity and consideration of different cultures and contexts, as opposed to one-way readings that opt for easy labeling and bypass more nuanced interpretations. Dutch national Mella Jaarsma, a resident of Indonesia for over two decades, delves into the subtleties of exotic culture as a Western female, developing a series of works titled 77?efoWoi/verthat employthe chadora veil worn by Muslim women as a means for dialogue with society at large and the outside world. Using emblems collected from a very range of organizations with symbols or logos of political parties, mosques, churches, sport clubs, she weaves them into a veil that implies the double meaning of both "refuge" and "prison" to express the complexity of the domestic political, racial, religious, and gender issues in the predominantly Muslim Indonesia. In the post-911 era, especially following the Bali bombing of October 2002, the world has seemingly bought into the simplistic and scurrilous notion of the Western-led global alliance that "Muslims = terrorists. The Follower offers food for thought on such notions.

In Rainbow Jacket, Chinese artist Sui Jianguo extends the revolutionary imagery of Sun Yat-sen into the fashion vernacular of material. This series, leaning on a century of cultural history and changes in the political environment and thinking, along with the reconstruction of artistic concepts, lends an entirely new interpretation to the "Sun Yat-sen's tunic suit," an article that carries with it strong political symbolism. In addition, inspired by the psychedelic cover art of the Beaties' Sergeant Pepper album, the artist sends a jolt of electricity through the staid, drab suits. This approach brings to light how the Chinese, while confronting opening and reform and embracing the world outside, have begun casting off the shackles of the traditional history that haunts them (revolutionary sentiment and communism), instead undergoing a baptism in Western capitalism and values.

Labor Exploitation under Global Capitalism

Unquestionably, the display of attire is an outward expression of who you are. We often use clothing-related terms like "white collar/' "blue collar," or "pink collar" to differentiate between values and classes of people in the economic order. The clothing categories presented in the works of Venezuelan artist Jose Antonio Hernandez-Diez range from T-shirts and sneakers to blue jeans. These plain casual styles have become a consensus "uniform" of the day, the style dictator under global- ism (Americanism). Under their (Western capitalism) nexus, the world has been consolidated and unified. Examining these goods we can observe the post-capitalist production module, wherein a highly-paid designer designs the products, which are then manufactured into finished goods by overseas cheap labor under contract manufacturing arrangements. Next; multinational corporations invest heavily in marketing and selling the goods at premium prices, making obscene profits in the process. Venezuela, the artist's home country, is one such low to mid-priced contract labor society. @ The monetary compensation these workers receive for their taxing labor is possibly not even enough to allow them to afford a single article of clothing they produced themselves in the factory. The exchange relationship between power and obligation is not treated equitably, leaving the cold reality of unshakeable exploitation. With both chaotic and lyrical imagery, the artist evinces frustration and sorrow, subtly expressing how much hardship behind all this is the artist's despairing indictment of globalism, capitalism, labor, economic domination, and uneven regional development

Consumption Rules as Fashion Goes Out of Control?

In contrast with the unlimited cheap labor created by global trade, in the fashion world - which feeds off of capitalism - there is a group of people working hard at all consumption. Apparel plays an omnipotent role within this order, placing all those who pursue fashion in a state of entranced obsession, so that anything that is popular is good. We also observe how fashion has developed a logic of its own, or could be said to have constructed a distinct order, as Barthes wrote: "Within fashion, existence and names, labels and goodness, concepts and reason are in complete agreement. Whatever is said makes sense. That is to say, what makes sense is real, O In the kingdom of fashion the designer is the regent, resolutely giving out orders like a king, while the subjects of fashion have no choice but to accept them. Barthes goes further, stating "that is fate,〃 © and "we clearly see that the essence of fashion reality is establishing the arbitrary nature of popularity." © Popularity invests one with a kind of supreme power, a natural power that transcends the past, so that humanity is tiny and meek under the fashion kingdom.

In order to express their undying esteem for king-like fashion, people worship with myriad popular apparel, turning the clothes closet or wardrobe into an altar for communion with it right in the home. With the performance work Wardrobe, ethnic Turkish German Nezaket Ekici places one article after another of clothing from a closet symbolizing overflowing desire for fashion on her body until the wardrobe is empty. Meanwhile, incased in layer upon layer of clothing she is transformed into a frightening alien, becoming a literal "fashion victim." Paralyzed by desire in the incessant cycle of consumption, the entire concept is shown to be harrowing through the performance, poignantly illustrating the dominant role of apparel in women's lives and the insatiable consumption thirst of modern people.

Similarly calling attention to modern citizens' infatuation with popular consumption, Taiwanese artist Jeffrey Wang appropriates the overriding traditional Chinese concept of filial piety. With the "24 Xiao" (24 filial Devotions), the artist transforms the story's parents into fashionable roles, relating in exaggerated, humorous, precise satirical fashion the absurd ways in which modern citizens chase after fashion.

In addition to sinking people into the morass of fashion, people's lustful desire for material consumption threatens nature and the ecology like a plague of locusts, sparing no one. Argentine artist Nicola Costantino, recreating a commercial setting and employing clothing using convincingly skin-like leather and real human hair, lets viewers experience through apparel humanity's cruelty and disrespect for life at the hands of its obsession with satisfying cravings.

The Nature of War: Camouflaged

Despite the growing number of people becoming involved like volunteer soldiers in protection and transformation of the social environment, a cursory survey around the world shows that numerous regions remain ravaged by military encroachment representing state power. Dreadful wars are fought over differences in faith, race, or political positions, and even more disheartening is that more wars continue to break out each day, making one wonder if it will ever end. With all this war around us, camouflage outfits, specialized apparel designed to protect the individual and deceive the enemy, have somehow become fashionable among young people around the world. Whether or not the wearer explicitly favors or opposes war; seeing all this camouflage attire in the streets and neighborhoods can make us feel out of place. In the multimedia installation work Untitled (2004), Indian artist Shilpa Gupta allows viewers, using a computer mouse, to manipulate projected images of women in stylish camouflage into various absurd poses, like controlling a game. The work is reminiscent of war-related games we played as children or in military training. Over the course of interaction between the work and the viewer, the artist conveys the notion that even in a game situation, whether intentionally or unconsciously, we all betray the desire to control others and accept the possibility of being ruled by others, underscoring inadvertent violent or terrorizing tendencies within us all.

From Complement to Catalyst: the Intimate Contest of Feminity, Romance and Clothing

I remember well a TV commercial for chewing gum that aired in Taiwan more than a decade ago with the classic line, "Feminism says: women lose in love and clothes.〃 Short and to the point, while not everyone would agree with its sentiment the phrase accurately expressed to a certain degree the actual conditions of today's women's lives and a plight that entraps them. Susan Kendzulak, an American resident of Taiwan, aptly expresses the love and hate dichotomy of relationships in her work of the same name, Love/Hate. In a boxing ring installed in the exhibition space, two viewers dressed in tight garb and boxing gloves illustrate through their interaction the messy, complex, intimate world of love. Held up against the violent antagonism on the screen of real boxing footage, the light, humorous linkage produces an indefinable weighty, psychological violence.

 

Women and clothing seem to be tied by an invisible umbilical cord. As the vanguard feminists of the day widely believed that women's lack of freedom and subjugation is somehow related to clothing, the "bra burners" of the 1960s and 70s viewed such action as a women's liberation movement Chanel/Shozam, an installation by American artist E.V. Day, is reminiscent of this well-known historical vignette. Under Day's violent aesthetic treatment, a Chanel suit originally worn by fellow collaborating female artist Kembra Pfahler© re-envisions this elegant brand of clothing in fragmented visual language. Supported by transparent fishing line, it radiates outward to become an explosive three-dimensional sculpture. As if transformed by the gods, like a black widow or Superwoman, before the exploded clothing, Pfahler's impudent, menacing manner conveys the instinctive defensive expression of a threatened, panicky organism facing danger, illustrating self- sufficient feminine strength and reflecting the complex predicament of today's women.

Is Fashion Accidental?

Forty years ago Roland Barthes remarked that "fashion is both overly serious and superficial," echoing the classic fashion industry phrase "fashion is profound in its superficiality." In this industry each person dialogues with others through his attire, establishing in his own way his own fashion world with its inherent philosophical and logical rules. With FASHION ACCIDENTALLY, we observe how artists from different countries employ the cultural vehicle of apparel to respond in different ways to the world around them. This encompasses the fair/unfair, life/death, love/hate, confusion/greed, struggle/fear, and absurd/real worlds 一 reality that plays out before us each and every day. No matter what form it takes, the extensions of fashion are surely more than just popularity, and surely go beyond our imagination. Is that accidental? Probably not! After viewing this exhibition, perhaps we can discover that this apparel was never branches of the fashion line, but we just forgot or never really took seriously their very real and substantial capacity for reminding.