Accidental Icon: Pertaining to Process
This weekend I had two experiences that seemed to help me find my way through the pull to retreat and the melancholic mood I have been in lately. Not surprisingly, one experience was related to art, the other to fashion; though you could say that the fashion event was also art and the art event was fashion. So they belong in that class of phenomenon that I call both/and.
The first event on Saturday was the New York debut of a fashion trade show that is already an established fixture in Paris. Known for its focus on the avant-garde, the show embodies artistic installations and collaborations with artists as well as showcasing emerging designers. Seeing itself more as an artistic platform than a trade show, the name which means "between us" in Italian, strives to bring together different, international creativity and high quality talent. Chosen venues, in this case "The Tunnel" an old railroad warehouse, strive for a more intimate feel and are in spaces that are somewhat atypical. The show featured 80 international ready-to-wear and accessories brands from 20 countries. The venue did indeed feel more like an art gallery with high ceilings, hard wood floors and brick walls. It was exactly the opposite of the experience I wrote about during fashion week where I was feeling bombarded by images in ways that made clothing and identities blur and become indistinct.
Most of the designers I spoke with had strong values and ethics related to sustainability and viewed their clothes and accessories as pieces to be collected and cherished rather than rapidly consumed much as one would approach a work of art. For this reason the fabrics and materials were luxurious, the tailoring and craftsmanship outstanding and there was innovative construction and use of textiles. Some designers had come from generations of leather and textile businesses. You could experience, feel and touch the clothes and receive pleasure from the beautiful object that they are. Many of the designers I met were very concerned with maintaining the "DNA" of their brand and felt that meant growing at a slower pace, having personal relationships with craftspersons, producers, buyers, customers, local manufacturers and keeping a focus on their process of creating and selling rather than only on bottom lines and outcomes. During the weeks ahead I will showcase some of the designers and share with you stories I heard about their commitment to the creative process and desires to stay true to their values and ethics.
The second event was the opening of a gallery exhibition at the Lisa Cooley Gallery by the artist Margo Wolowiec entitled, Corrections and Exposures. The artist makes textiles that begin with digital images, identified as a mass of visual information that is often overwhelming, exactly articulating the feeling I had been having when viewing social media during fashion week. She counters this sensation by referencing and using two endangered technologies: the hand loom and the darkroom. These two technologies slow the process of image creation down to a series of incremental steps, corrections and exposures which are given a material form through dying weft and warp threads, woven into a diffuse and hazy image. Marks usually made on corrected photographic proofs are painted on the thread during the weaving process mitigating the effects of the erasure of historical iterations. Here too the space in which the work was seen and discussed was intimate, open and full of light allowing for slow appreciation of the complexity of the work. Engaging and knowledgeable gallery staff were available to give information and enter into a conversation.
The artist lives and works in Brooklyn and has had solo exhibitions at Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, Johansson Projects, Oakland and is part of three person show, Le Mer Insomniaque, at the Laura Bartlett Gallery in London.
Both the artist's work and the designers I spoke with addressed the notion of slowness. They are both concerned with objects that are slow to make and wish for them to be slow to consume, to be savored and appreciated, nuance by nuance, detail by detail. Today somehow I find my mood lifted, a clearer direction, a renewed sense of purpose. I am inspired to go slow, to stay in the process of becoming and feel sure in the knowledge that my reinvention will be a series of exposures and corrections.