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Alter/Mode: Fashion Beyond Clothes

Artists Andrea Ayala Closa and Bogomir Doringer attempt to figure out the problem of separating fashion from clothes.

“Fashion derives from a basic tension specific to the social condition of the human being. On one hand, each of us has a proneness to imitate others. On the other side, we also have a wish to distinguish ourselves from the same.” Tomas Rajnai, curator of exhibition ALTER/MODE which has just opened simultaneously at both the Galleri Kleerup and Weld in Stockholm, has grappled with the conflicting messages of what ‘fashion’ in its most basic form means and what it has become today. Rajnai invited artists that also design or designers that create art to interpret the variety of meanings in fashion, encouraging users to look at fashion separated from trends and shopping. Andrea Ayala Close, an Antwerp Royal Academy graduate will be drawing parallels between past collections and her more recent paintings and objects at the Kleerup. Amsterdam-based artist Bogomir Doringer has presented the fifth phase of his ongoing project Fashion and Despair, revolving around the story of Natasha Kampusch at the Weld. In addition a control room at the Architecture Museum in Stockholm is also screening the exhibitions at the Kleerup and Weld.

Andrea Ayala Close
DD: Whilst your clothes are imbued with concept, they also have a certain degree of wearability, especially when compared to your Antwerp Academy peers.... is that intentional?  
Andrea Ayala Close: Yes, its my way of doing things… I have always been very “practical person”. I try to always walk this line between wearability and the other side. But clothes are to wear, on people like us… we cant forget that…
I come from a family with two generations involved in textiles, and I have been surrounded by fabrics and clothes and perhaps for me it is logical not to use pieces of iron to make trousers…

DD: Would you say using fashion to convey ideas will ever overtake the fact that we look at clothes as utility items?
Andrea Ayala Close: Its already happening, not in this time of crisis I would say. But still people are increasingly trying to find something special to wear, different things, with special detailing and ideas.

DD: What is your personal definition of 'fashion'?
Andrea Ayala Close: Fashion for me is a bit of an ugly word. I am sorry. I don’t like this word. It became too many things I am not interested anymore. Fashion is for me a general esthetic that the media sells for everybody to buy. It's marketing for the companies. I respect it and it became a big business for the society. Its all a bit disgusting. What about the position of women in all this fashion aeshetic? We have to look like bitches if we want to be in fashion? We need to have a pair of huge breast and a tiny tiny waist if we want to be in fashion? What is this horrible position for women they are putting us in!!!  

Bogomir Doringer
DD: Why did you choose to focus on the Natasha Kampusch case?
Bogomir Doringer: She is a character from a fairytale. I’ve known her since I was a child. She is a Little Red Riding Hood. Furthermore from media presentation of her I know that she is suffering from the Stockholm syndrome and I’ve always been fascinated by these cases. There is something fascinating in the human nature to deal with fear and pain by turning it in to love of pleasure.
DD: How do you tie in our conventional concepts of 'fashion' in with this particular project?
Bogomir Doringer: From the fashion I am taking a very important necessity, a need for branding. This branding comes when I place a real tattoo of an image of Natasha Kampusch by the artist Dejan Kaludjerovic. On my request Dejan made this stamp-tattoo. It works as a skin brand, just as in a real old fashioned meaning of branding. At the same time such a tattoo will always remind us of Natasha’s trauma. This trauma has roots in one society, in this case Austria, and should not be so fast forgotten. We need to deal with it, instead of brushing it under the carpet. The most famous photos of Natasha is a photo in, which she is wearing a red jacket as a child. I redesigned this jacket and added element of hoody in order to link this case to well known fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood.

DD: What is your personal definition of 'fashion'?
Bogomir Doringer: I do not see my purpose in being a fashion designer only but I do have need to express my self with it as well. Fashion is working for my projects. I will say I am the boss and fashion is my employer (investigator). Everybody can criticise fashion, much easier than artworks. Art has a more scary impact on people. So, fashion is preparing a specific “virus”, overexposed via media to audience. Once they are exposed to this virus, my work comes on the stage. I like that fashion is an everlasting exhibition in a public space. That is the part that I adore about fashion. Letting it go after it is made!

ALTER/MODE is at the Arkitekturmuseet, Galleri Kleerup and Weld all in Stockholm until May 31. The exhibition is also being video streamed live from ALTER/MODE Blog.