"Repair wouldn't be necessary if things never broke, never frayed, never splintered or fell to pieces—or if we didn't care that they did" - Elizabeth Spelman, Repair: The impulse to restore in a fragile world
It is the end of week 6, and I feel like I am still not quite getting anywhere near the crux of my thesis, I am reading different literature to try ease me into a topic.
I came to a simple and personal realisation today; that my final thesis and its pre-ocuppations are very much attuned to my current state of being. Perhaps I realised this sub-consciously, but it only became clear that when I am looking at mending and alterations in garments, I am thinking about caring and repairing. While it is unnecessary to go in depth with this, I have been on an emotional journey towards facing experiences from my past that I wish to recover and mend. I now realise why I am drawn to this topic, and now I have to contextualise this theme within the larger frame of my Masters and relate it to curating fashion. While there is a fashion history and theoretical understanding needed, I have to think about my intentions as a fashion curator and what I am trying to achieve by focusing on mending and altering in fashion. Who am I as a curator and what drives me, what kind of exhibitions do I want to curate and why? These are big questions, and I am overwhelmed and proceed timidly, a crooked stitch at a time. Although I spent the first 2 semesters thinking about this, I have still not come to a conclusion that satisfies me.
Literature List for the week:
1. Bond, S. DeSilvey, C. & Ryan, J.R. (2013) Visible Mending: Everyday repairs in the South West, Cornwall: Uniformbooks
2. Vestoj: On Slowness
3. Adam Phillips: On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored
4. Kate Fletcher, Matilda Tham: The Routledge Handbook on Sustainability
Time, slowness, mending, repairing
The different books have been feeding different parts of my research. Vestoj's issue on Slowness gave me an academic and poetic look at the theme of slowness, which I think is one of the main ideas on slow fashion and the very act of repair and mending deals with slowing down, both the damage as well as our attention when it is directed at the object of repair. I began to have words and phrases that could help me in thinking about the design elements of my exhibition and possible objects: unfinished, incomplete, unfinished garments (I recalled an incomplete mutton sleeve I had seen at the V&A which was shown by itself on a mannequin), altered garments, mended garments, is it leading to slowing down as we meet death? How to get the audience to complete garments when they enter the exhibition? Does this happen naturally when we show incomplete objects? Do we automatically try to fill in the blanks?
Adam Phillips explores being bored through psychoanalytic theory; this relates to slowness as we associate being bored with time stretching beyond it's usual length.
I am not doing very well in managing my time with work and research. I went for a mentoring session today, and one of the key takeaways was about managing conflict. So in the spirit of conflict-management, I shall list the 'conflicts' that I am facing right now in the path to my thesis.
1. I don't know what type of exhibition I am making
- reflect on the type of exhibitions that moved me, or that interested me
2. I do not know what exactly I am looking at
-read more and continue to journal daily
3. I do not know what I want my audience to take away
-list down possible audience reactions to exhibitions
(today someone told me they felt special when they saw the McQueen exhibition)
4. I do not have time to think about my work because I am working for $
- be strict with a time-table
So I will check back on these issues next week and see if anything has been resolved.
This week's most interesting reading came from Vestoj's issue On Slowness. While I was particularly interested in mended textiles like Boro, it was interesting that in this issue there are 3 inclusions of on clothing worn for religious and contemplative purposes by the Amish, a Catholic order and Ghandi.
'The design of the cowl is a large cloak, with long sleeves and a hooded neck hole. It's a contemplative garment and meant to be impractical-you can't run in it for instance. It slows you down and you can't do much in the way of work as a result of the long sleeves. Because you can't move quickly, it calls forth a sort of gravitas by imposing a sense of gravity on the wearer.' (p. 27, The Contemplative Life; On Slowing Down Production by Elongating Wear by Father Michael Casey OCSO as told to Laura Gardner)
'The monk that taught me to tailor, who has since died, Brother Leonardo Xavier, had been a milliner in Paris for Christian Dior before opening a hat shop, Leonardo's, in Brisbane. Before coming to the monastry he made hats for famous women like Princess Margaret and Shirley MacLaine, who would fly over to meet him. We used to joke that the only reason he entered the monastry was because women stopped wearing hats!' (p. 27, The Contemplative Life; On Slowing Down Production by Elongating Wear by Father Michael Casey OCSO as told to Laura Gardner)
Perhaps in a freudian slip, I am reverting to monastic themes--slownes, contemplation--due to my surname; Monasterios, whose origins might have been related to a Monastery. Or at least it is funny to speculate. Stranger things have happened.
#4 Review: Cos & Serpentine Galleries Presents: Park Nights 2016: Brian Belott, with Billy Grant, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Matthew Thurber and Tyson Reeder
While not directly related to my MA dissertation, this week's Park Night performance affected me. It was delightful and unexpected, leaving me thinking about images and situations for days after. The Serpentine Park Nights is sponsored by COS, which draws fashion/art audiences and so this performance's promise of a fashion show was well placed.
What really struck me was the ability of the narrator to get me to go inside my head, by closing my eyes and just through suggestive narration, and participate in the performance with my imagination. He also managed to get the audience to explore a different part of the architecture of the pavilion--by seating on the floor.
The audience was bewildered, confused, impatient at times, laughing, uneasy.. I was almost in tears by the experience.
The 'fashion show' was ridiculous and absurd--and could easily have been a *insert avant garde label here* runway show. With heavy techno music, models entered wearing were deconstructed t-shirts, garment tags showing, a shoe on a shoe on a shoe, trousers with pockets and pockets and pockets (which made me think of Dali and Schiaparelli's 'Tear Dress' collaboration and also of his paintings with drawers coming out of torsos--showing the innards) "But..I NEED TO PULL OUT EVERY POCKET BAG TO SHOW YOU THE CONTENTS OF MY POCKETS!". There were models eating-yes eating!-humming, getting electrocuted, hitting each other pulling each others hair. A man in a lampshade hat! Graduation gown with patches (totally on trend with the high-school trend) (and is getting a degree the most fashionable thing you can do? hmmm yes honey) Models of all ages, ethnicities, shapes...(fiction is more diverse than reality). It ended with models in minimal coats forcing open their coats which were fastened by garment security tags which made a cricketing beeping noise and the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist barging down the 'runway' with a suitcase that had soft toys exploding out of it. And Brian Belot's head on fire...
The full performance is available on https://vimeo.com/177224376.