Beyond the Surface: "Dress Codes" at New York's International Center of Photography | Bleader

Friday, October 9, 2009

Beyond the Surface: "Dress Codes" at New York's International Center of Photography

Posted By on 10.09.09 at 05:48 PM

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10  Thorsten Brinkmann  Drune Quoll, 2007  C-print
  • © Thorsten Brinkmann Courtesy Galerie Kunstagenten, Berlin
  • 10 Thorsten Brinkmann Drune Quoll, 2007 C-print

I haven't been to New York for a while, mostly out of pure laziness (and a little bit out of insufficient cash flow), but I'm looking at airfares now specifically to see Dress Codes, a new exhibit at the International Center of Photography.

I find myself less and less interested in the idea of fashion as presented, face-value, in popular culture—the endless hype of Fashion Weeks around the world, what celebrities are wearing, "must-have" trends—and more in the psychological, social, cultural, and personal aspects of what it means to wear clothes. As Roberta Smith writes in her review of the exhibit in the New York Times, "Clothing is a language that we study carefully and read almost reflexively, like the expression on a person’s face. What we wear is an interface between our bodies (and our selves) and the world, a form of privacy and perfection as well as a public statement." Fashion can be deep, even disturbing.

The ICP's exhibit is not populated by artists who work mainly in fashion—the curators chose work by artists that fit the theme of fashion. Nathalie Djurberg's Claymation video highlighting the competition and frenzy of fashion obsessives will strike a chord with anyone who's been elbowed at a sample sale or braved the release of a new designer collection for H&M. I'm also intrigued by Thorsten Brinkmann's classically inspired self-portraits featuring flea-market finds and found objects he fashions into bizarre costumes.

The exhibit runs through January 17, 2010.

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