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LIMITS OF FASHION Photomonth_kropki_duze

 
Simon Menner, From a Disguise Seminar, 2010–2012 © Simon Menner 

 

 

 

When, in the early 1990s, Varvara Frol’s father brought some clothes he bought in the West to Izhevsk, the capital of the Udmurt Republic, his family must have experienced quite a shock. At the time, colourful sweatsuits, patterned sweaters, and printed T-shirts were not a common sight among the concrete developments erected on the vast open plain that stretches between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains. Outside of Russia, Izhevsk is known primarily to military buffs; its most famous inhabitant is Mikhail Kalashnikov, and the factory that manufactures his eponymous rifle is the largest industrial complex in the region. In the period directly following the fall of the Soviet Union, local sensibilities were still shaped primarily by enduring pre-Christian beliefs and a lingering Soviet mentality. If to this we add rampant banditry and the endemic poverty that was prevalent at the time, it is easy to understand that the last thing one would want would be to stand out from the crowd on the street. One could lose one’s life for wearing a colourful shirt or “foreign” hat. 

 
Even so, it was impossible to resist the charm of the clothes the father brought home. That’s why Varvara’s family put these clothes on in their apartment and took pictures of one another. An incredible private archive was created in this way—a spontaneous Udmurtian lookbook. The photographs became evidence of a time when a bright yellow sweatsuit could represent a means of escaping from the shadow of post-totalitarian greyness.
 
Years later, Frol, now an artist living in Poland, transformed these pictures into a project, which is being shown to the public for the first time in the Limits of Fashion exhibit at Bunkier Sztuki. Her family pictures have been placed among and juxtaposed with, for example, training pictures for STASI agents, instructing them on how to dress up like an amateur photographer or a policeman; pictures of Polish historical reconstruction aficionados recreating the dress of warriors from past centuries; portraits showing proud butchers or drunk businessmen; photographs documenting costumes used during ceremonial African mask dances; typologies of the hand-painted jackets of World War II bomber crews; quasi-anthropological analyses of 1970s gay street fashion; and so on.
 
The projects included in the exhibit raise issues no less compelling than Frol’s story about a world in which shamanism, communism, and capitalism clashed with one another. Artists who are participating in the exhibit touch upon a wide array of topics. They examine the ways in which fashion can embrace an intimately personal style or be defined by externally imposed patterns. They show that fashion can be a means of constructing and announcing a nonconformist identity, though also a means of subjugating or disciplining it, of shaping and enforcing social conformity. They establish that style doubles as the badge of both the individual and the tribe. Themes of identity, dressing up, camouflage, masquerade, and uniform weave their way through the series of photographs, films, and videos on display at Bunkier Sztuki.
 
Bronisław Malinowski, author of canonical cultural anthropology texts, once wrote that through reflection about eating and sexual habits one can examine a culture as a whole. The premise of the Limits of Fashion curatorial team is the notion that fashion, along with its attendant behaviours and customs, can enable us to take a closer look at contemporary culture, especially when we begin exploring not only what a person wears, but why and how he or she chooses to wear it.
 
Place: 
Galeria Sztuki Współczesnej Bunkier Sztuki
pl. Szczepański 3a
Vernissage: 18.05.2013, 14:00
Open: 18.05–16.06; TUE–SUN 11:00–18:00, CLOSED 30.05
Easy access for the disabled.
Ticket: 5 PLN / 10 PLN
 
 

ARTISTS AND PROJECTS

  • AMC (Archive of Modern Conflict), 1970s Fashion Photography from the United States
  • Tiane Doan na Champassak, Father of Pop Dance
  • Hans Eijkelboom, Paris–New York–Shanghai 
  • Sławomir Elsner, Sławomir
  • Hal Fisher, Gay Semiotics: A Photographic Study of Visual Coding Among Homosexual Men
  • Charles Fréger, Butchers, from the Bleus de travail [Work Uniforms] series
  • Varvara Frol, From Communism to Shamanism
  • Phyllis Galembo, West African and Haitian Masquerades
  • Małgorzata Goliszewska, Dress Me
  • Fergus Greer, Leigh Bowery Looks 
  • Estelle Hanania, Parking Lot Hydra
  • Jarocin Music Festival Seen Through the Lens of the SB
    [Polish Security Service until 1990]
  • Paweł Jaszczuk, High Fashion
  • Michał Jędrzejowski, Tomasz Liboska, Warriors
  • Sabina Keric, Yvonne Bayer, Urban Camouflage 
  • Margareta Kern, The Graduation Dresses
  • Bomber Jackets
  • Robert Kuta, Magda Łuniewska, Danuta Płatek: Hairdresser
  • Zbigniew Libera, Rubber Bands
  • Zbigniew Libera, How to Train Little Girls
  • Jenny Livingstone, Paris is Burning
  • Simon Menner, Camouflage
  • Simon Menner, From a Disguise Seminar
  • Lucia Nimcova, BSP
  • Lucia Nimcova, Models by Maria
  • Wojtek Nowicki, Kultura Paryska
  • Józef Robakowski, PoMore Air! 
  • John Waters, Różowe Flamingi / Pink Flamingos

  

INTERACTIVE ACTIONS

  • Agnieszka Pajączkowska (concept), Sunday Outfit
  • Towarzystwo Inicjatyw Twórczych „ę” (concept), Family Album: Things, Clothing, Outfits

 

 

CURATOR

 

Paweł Szypulski

  

 

CURATORIAL TEAM

 

Iñaki Domingo, Karol Hordziej, Martin Kollár, Wojciech Nowicki, Karolina Sulej

 

 

INTERACTIVE ACTIVITIES

 

Agnieszka Pajączkowska 

 

 

SCENOGRAPHY

 

Barbara Hanicka

 

 

EXHIBITION GRAPHIC DESIGN

 

Pilar Rojo, Toto Castiglione 

 

 

COORDINATION

 

Joanna Gorlach