journeys at home and abroad
Utterly absorbing exhibition at the Royal Academy in London at the moment – ends 30th January : Aware – Art Fashion Identity. It’s an exhibition of clothes which no-one is expected to wear.
I visited on Monday and was the last of our group to get to the café, it was so magnetic.
An intriguing bundle of exhibits:
Checkpoint Chic – at the army checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank, Gaza, etc (and I remember the queues, the guns, the tension), men are often asked to expose their torsos – presumably to show they carry no weapons or suicide belts. This exhibit shows hilarious ways in which men could dress to allow the soldiers to check more easily – cropped-to-empire-line pinstripe suits, zips and holes revealing the right bits of flesh, Venetian blind arrangements on shirts. The catwalk film ends abruptly with photos of men being searched and stripped at the border crossings.
Roma coats – made by Maria Papadimitriou from soft, thick, very brightly coloured (lots of reds and yellows), acrylic blankets. I’ve seen them in India & Pakistan but never knew they were precious to this community.
‘African’ dresses – made from the kind of batik-y prints you can get easily in Brixton. I thought the fabric was manufactured in Africa and exported here – but no – it’s the other way round. The Netherlands and the UK are the biggest exporters of something that originated in Indonesia and, for the artist,
‘Batik proved to have a cross-bred cultural background quite of its own, and it’s the fallacy of that signification that I like. It’s the way I view culture – it’s an artificial construct.’
Anyone know more about this – the colours, the designs of African prints? What are their origins? Who designs them now?
Community shirts – shirts printed with images of blocks of flats were posted from each household on one estate in the Czech Republic to the households on a neighbouring estate.
Shirts were posted in return, so that people from the two estates were linked – they had very little to do with each other previously.
The artist, Kateřina Šedá, took photos of people wearing the shirts and of the relationships which developed. What an amazing project.