Dress Codes: Exhibit Review

The International Center of Photography has an amazing exhibit up right now called Dress Codes. While the framing is technically fashion, the show is really about image–chock full of interesting art about gender, beauty, race, and the body, among other favorite feminist topics. They describe its range:

The theme of fashion encompasses a diverse range of practices and ideas, including explorations of identity and affiliation; the production, distribution, and consumption of images and goods; contemporaneity; age; gender; and global industry. The themes of the Triennial express the exuberance, wit, and astute social observation taking place within contemporary image-making. These artists variously explore fashion–whether in everyday dress, haute couture, street fashion, or uniforms–as a celebration of individuality, personal identity, and self-expression, and as cultural, religious, social, and political statements.

The most compelling piece, in my opinion, was a video installation done by Australian artist David Rosetzky in which the amazing Cate Blanchett talks about performance while doing various physical movements in a big, open warehouse. She dresses and undresses, dances with the knowledge that she is being watched, moves her hands in a sort of beautiful interpretative swirl, walks and pauses, walks again etc. All the while, she talks about her approach to performance in truly surprising ways. For example, she admits that doesn’t really fall in love with the characters she portrays, as so many artists claim to, that in fact she finds that her best work comes when she is a bit indifferent to them. There is something so vulnerable, so artful about the whole piece. She ends by talking about the “constant pull between wanting to be seen and not wanting to be seen.”

Other artists to watch who are included in the exhibit: Miyako Ishiuchi, Pinar Yolacana, Mickalene Thomas, Olga Chernysheva, Lorna Simpson, Cindy Sherman, and good ol’ Barbara Kruger.

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