Unanswered Questions

A Haze in Vienna

Creativity today benefits anew from interdisciplinary exchange. Something long ago considered normal has since been lost due to society’s advancing tendency to pigeonhole all the professions. Alas, this gem of an exhibition is keen to demonstrate the benefits of fruitful interaction in which the synergetic combination of talents results in a spectacular interpretation of fashion. The highly varied origins of the individuals concerned further exaggerate this multilayered approach, generating creations as expansive as they are diverse, and assisting to emphasise the wonders of the realm we call fashion.
When fashion designers and artists explore each other’s strategies, a fluid world of misty and holistic experimentation spreads new experiences: ‘Get in the haze’, fashion exhibition, Vienna. “As soon as fashion becomes common, it expires”, observed Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach. But since the Realism movement of the late 19th century, this Austrian writer, one of the few female novelists to have been involved, things have changed a fair bit. Nowadays, fashion design is much more than a question of what to wear or to do with styling. It explores the limits of the body, of genders, materials and spaces. It sets up the parameters for a metaphorical world that lies beyond the commercial restrictions of prêt-a-porter or global branding. Designers’ ideas and creations are based on the language of art in a fashion context. They look beyond everyday men’s or women’s wear and discover a wide field of unknown experiences. Concurrently, artists who collaborate with their counterpart disciplines, such as fashion design, often end up with concepts that cannot be categorised within strict boundaries, because they combine the whole universe that exists between art and design.
For the Vienna exhibition ‘Get in the Haze’ at quartier21/ MQ, Lliure Briz invited 21 young international talents to look beyond the borders of their disciplines in a personal way. “Many designers have this struggle between commercial fashion and their own approach to fashion”, the Spanish curator explains. Some of the contributors have even developed site-specific pieces during their participation in the artist-in-residence programme at the MQ. “It is not the typical curatorial way, but something more alive”, Lliure says, explaining her method of encouraging new works. The show confronts visitors with installations and photographs, video art and textile sculptures. Many of these unusual proposals pose questions that are not going to be answered.

Materiality and Metaphor
“I don’t see myself as a commercial photographer. I want to get behind the surface of beauty and develop something more than a photo of a beautiful dress”, Daniel Sannwald says. In his 2010 photograph for Metal magazine, the German photographer shows space and surfaces, skin and fragments of layers that envelope the body. In his vision, the upper part of a body that is mapped thus becomes a play of surfaces that disbands the integrity of the body. When losing its common materiality, the body changes into a hybrid figure within an unknown sphere. The Belgian artist Michael Dans chooses the vice versa perception for his ‘Mountain Peaks Meeting’. Instead of taking the body as a starting point, his white and green hills appear as a kind of landscape at first glance. But on looking a second time, the shoes under the green coats expose the scenery as a metaphor. Made by a group of people who hide their identity under white and green costumes, this metaphor indicates an anonymity that playfully criticises the Ku Klux Clan, at the same time opening up associations with a landscape of peaceful hills. Many of the contributors, originally from Japan, Australia, Austria, Italy, and other countries, have studied in Antwerp. However, the exhibition has no intention to define an Antwerp school. “I work in fashion, but my background is artistic”, says Briz. With her own photographs and videos, which are also included in the show, the Antwerp-based curator identifies the ‘haze’ that is part of her exhibition concept, making it literally visible. To keep the exhibition lively, workshops, presentations and performances are combined. Fashion may expire as soon as it becomes common, but there is now a lot more to discover exceeding the common routes.

Text: Sandra Hofmeister

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