Materiality: Clothes as Art

I have written in several previous posts about clothes as objects, and the meanings that they acquire when they are seen without bodies inside them. Clothes without bodies can be perceived as being unfulfilled, as if they are not living up to their potential. As I have observed here, clothes in rigged displayed, separated from the body, invite observers to focus on their colour and tactile qualities, rather than the shape and cut that would be key when a garment is displayed on a human form. These features – colour and texture – are those that are often most interesting to artists. Clothes have become objects of fascination for creative practitioners outside of the fashion industry, including photographers such as Jospeh Ford. Given everything that I have previously written on this subject, this post will be a photo-essay…

Maria Victoria Guerrerco

Shirts, selected and arranged for their colour, photographed by Maria Victoria Guerrerca, 2012. In acts of appropriation, artists remove clothes from the context of wearing, and exploit their other features. Cuban art duo, Guerra de la Paz, select discarded clothing by its colour, and employ it as a flexible material in the construction of sculptural objects.

Guerra de la Paz

Cuban art duo, Guerra de la Paz, find clothing in recycling and waste bins.

Guerra de la Paz

Guerra de la Paz

Issey Miyake origami

Issey Miyake origami-inspired clothing folds flat into abstract decorative shapes. Even when draped over the volume of a body, these garments retain some folded contours and points. They conform more readily to folded shapes than the contours of the wearer’s body.

ski clothing mountains

Advertisement for ski clothing, created by the Hummingbirds agency, photographed by Philip Karlberg.

Berg clothes horse

Berg Clothes Horse. These structures are designs to transform mess into art.

Bela Borsodi

Bela Borsodi folds and arranges clothing to form faces and masks.

Image Sources:
Guerra de la Paz:
Hummingbird ad for ski clothing
Berg clothes horse
Bela Borsodi clothes masks

2 thoughts on “Materiality: Clothes as Art

  1. What beautiful photos. I love seeing clothes as art and object. I’d say there’s an argument to be made that, seeing garments displayed so imaginatively, suggests we’re not living up to *their* potential. Heh.

    • That raises interesting question about the distinction between ‘intention’ and ‘potential’. Is the designer’s intended use the only ‘correct’ use? If so, should do we respond to repurposed objects (e.g. Margiela’s goal made of combs). If intention does not dictate potential, then potential must be infinite!

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