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Since the beginning of his career, technology has been an important tool for Hussein Chalayan. See for instance his Remote Control Dress from 1999. The panels of the dress can be opened or closed with a remote control. For his Spring/Summer collection 2007, Chalayan made a series of 5 Mechanical Dresses that change shape and thus present the history of fashion since 1895.
The Gaze: looking and being looked at
The concept of The Gaze (Le regard in French) describes how the viewer gazes upon the people presented and represented. As a concept of social power relations, the 1960s ascendancy of postmodern philosophy and social theory, as exposited by the intellectuals Michael Foucault (The medical gaze, 1963) and Jacques Lacan (The mirror stage, early 1950s) popularized usage of The Gaze as a term.
Visual culture as an academic subject is a field of study that generally includes some combination of cultural studies, art history, critical theory, philosophy and anthropology, by focusing on aspects of culture that rely on visual images.
Nicolas Mirzoeff, An Introduction to Visual Culture, Routledge, 1999
Jessica Evans & Stuart Hall, Visual Culture, Sage Publications, 1999 [collection of essyas]
In 1993, Hussein Chalayan (Nicosia 1970) graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art en Design in London. In 2001 he left London for Paris and presented his first prêt-à-porter collection for women. In 2002 he also showed a men’s collection. Chalayan is interested in architecture, philosophy and anthropology. He likes to make use of modern technology and to experiment with different ways of expression: from sculpture to video and from architecture to performance.
His themes often come forth from personal experience, for instance multicultural identity. Chalayan always works in the area between fashion and art. In 2005 he represented Turkey at the Venice Biennale and the Groninger Museum in Groningen, the Netherlands, made a large solo exhibition of his work. At the same time, a monography was published.
As a boy, on his way to school, he used to pick a mandarin from the tree that grew in the curve of the staircase to his home. After all these years, the scent of a mandarin peel brings him back to his youth; to the classroom, notebooks and pencils – to the boy he was, the person he wanted to be and, perhaps, already was in the eyes of his classmates.
Being a famous fashion designer, Hussein Chalayan picks a piece – it’s just a fragment – from the infinitely complex pattern of human experiences and relationships. Micro Geography: that’s how he calls his installation in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
The installation shows a human figure, a woman, under water. The water is moved by the wind and changes colour, depending on the time of the day. Like the small plants, the woman seems to float with the tide and to be rooted in the soil. But at the same time there are camera’s everywhere. Each movement of her body is seen by many eyes. The figure is trapped in an instable network of relationships. And then yet another person comes and starts looking at her. That person is you!
Who does she want to be? Who is she in your eyes. And what does your gaze mean for who she is or will become?
This video is part of the The Art of Fashion exhibition, on view until January 10th 2010 at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.
Camera: Nanko Goeting
Editing: Jorrit Spoelstra at Photoboothworks