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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Art Institute Chicago: Fashioning the Object

With its Fashioning the Object exhibit, Art Institute Chicago presents concrete evidence that fashion can be a valid art form.

Displaying works from designers Bless (Desiree Heiss, Ines Kaag), Boudicca (Zowie Broach, Brian Kirkby), and Sandra Backlund - Fashioning the Object, as an entire experience, is thought-provoking.  Reading the designer overviews, I liked Boudicca's description of their approach as "investigative rather than simply decorative" - and thought this aptly characterized the installations of all the designers in the exhibit.

Wandering through the Bless No. 45 Music curtain, visitors may touch and inspect objects hanging from chain curtains, which rustle and make sound.  Viewing and interacting with the Bless objects gave me the impression of discovering a fashion zoo, displaying exotic species rarely seen by man.

Within Boudicca's exhibit are many fascinating videos.  I especially liked the System Error presentation - and in particular the Solitary Dress, with pockets for hugging one's own self.

To have had more time to view the Boudicca videos completely would have been ideal, for I was intrigued by the time spent in their creation - and the subjects were fascinating to me - such as one focusing on the behavior of fabric on bodies of dancers in motion.

Sandra Backlund's installations were primarily knitted art to wear.  Her technique is very architecturally sculptural.  Imagine magnifying traditional stitches, making the stitches and features 50 to 100 percent larger.  I imagine wearing a Backlund creation would be like wearing the lightweight yarn version of an ornate Greco-Roman marble column or pediment.

See and hear Zoe Ryan, Art Institute of Chicago Curator of Design and Chair of Department of Architecture and Design, as she describes the Fashioning the Object exhibit and the work of these designers here (via Youtube clip).