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Maison_Martin_Margiela_(c) Tyrone Lebon
Maison Martin Margiela ©Tyrone Lebon

Faceless Fashion

From Margiela to Marina Abramović, we unveil the creatives who have become virtually faceless

With each day, anonymity becomes more attractive. It’s a phenomenon that has been fueled by the media’s desire to expose and something that has been heightened by the digital realm we exist in. Brands like Maison Martin Margiela have built empires on our thirst for ambiguity, from the mysterious disappearance of its designer, to the minimal lab coats worn by all their staff and the bejeweled masks of AW12. Artists and photographers attempt to define the ‘faceless’ epidemic present in the self-explorations of Marina Abramović and the Polaroid prostitutes of Philip Vogelenzang’s photography. FACELESS at freiraum quartier21 International takes a deep look at this culture of facelessness manifesting itself in visual mediums across the globe. Artist Bogomir Doringer curated the two-part exhibition in collaboration with Brigitte Felderer from the University of Applied Arts Vienna. With Part 1 soon to kick off, Doringer reflected on art within our increasingly screened society.

Dazed Digital: How would you describe the concept of ‘faceless’?

Bogomir Doringer: Faceless is a person, figure whose face is blurred, deranged, masked, poetically invisible or hidden in any possible way for many reasons. Faceless is a socio-political state of being.

DD: Why do you think we are attracted to the idea of anonymity?

Bogomir Doringer: Facelessness is addictive. Faceless images are seductive, sexually tensed, political, frightening, mystical, and horrific. Once they are produced they ask for constant reproduction, they spread virally trough social networks and remain integrated in a form of fashion.

DD: Are you interested in exploring the concept of facelessness within your own work? 

Bogomir Doringer: Through my fashion collections I experimented with covering models’ faces in masks or hair, thus attempting to make a statement on ‘overdose of beauty’ and artificiality penetrating contemporary society through media. This suggested a possible return of masks as a solution for covering destabilized identities. While still a student I have been striving to bind together fashion and art - inspired by socio political investigations and masked faces were a perfect solution for this.

DD: With so many examples of facelessness in popular culture today, how did you approach the task of curating the exhibition?

Boromir Doringer:  The exhibition is divided in to many thematic blocks, like burka, hooligans, fetish, mutants, media manipulations, icons etc. In my vision the continuity and the interrelation of these art works is very important to build this narrative. This exhibition does not show what is new but points out the ‘faceless’ phenomena and it’s comfortable integration into our lives.

DD: How does the Internet hinder individuality and foster facelessness?

Boromir Doringer: Social networks are a vacuumed source of inspiration and compressed space for the activity of almost every living person today. We seek inspiration online, forgetting that this data (no matter how democratic it seems) is actually very controlled and limited. This is the reason why today so many art works or fashion works look alike. While promising broad platforms for self-promotion, social networks are developing towards a growing invasion of privacy. The mask of today is a digital mask!

DD: Why do you think fashion labels like Maison Martin Margiela have tapped into the ‘faceless’ concept?

Bogomir Doringer: There are many fashion labels that have worked with this kind of look in last decade. Margiela’s covering of model’s faces was a statement against super models and fast growing superficiality, insisting on so-called contemporary celebrities. Fashion has huge power to put criticism in practice within the public space, via people’s bodies.

DD: So that’s Part 1 covered, what can we expect from Part 2 of the exhibition in September?

Bogomir Doringer:  Artworks from covers like latest David Bowie, Daft Punk, Austra, Woodkid and many others will be presented. Nicola Kuperus from band Adult has been busy with hidden faces in her work for a quite long time. It will be an honour to have them included.

FACELESS Part 1 runs from July 4 to September 1 at freiraum quartier21 INTERNATIONAL / MuseumsQuartier, 1/1070 Wien, Austria. Part 2 opens in September.