FASHIONALITY - SEMIOTICS OF DRESS AND ADORNMENT
Dana Claxton's Onto the Redroad, 2007, will be on exhibit from May 5th to September 3rd in an interesting new exhibition that examines the semiotics of dress and adornment. The exhibition will be held at The McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
Fashionality:1. One's personality expressed in their clothing, “fashion personality.”
2. One's nationality expressed in their clothing, “fashion nationality.”
- The Urban Dictionary
“Fashionality” is a newly coined play on words that refers to the visual culture and semiotics of dress and adornment. Combining the words “fashion,” “personality,” and “nationality,” it signals the interplay between clothing, identity, and cultural affinity. Taking the idiom of dress as a starting point, Fashionality: Dress and Identity in Contemporary Canadian Arti> explores the use of apparel in the work of twenty-three contemporary Canadian artists. It considers the diverse ways in which the clothed body and the idiom of dress are employed as sources of inspiration, humour, and critique, and as sites for the exploration of issues of identity, hybridity, and self-expression. Not strictly about fashion, the exhibition explores the ways in which the subjectivities and identities of those living in Canada are expressed, deconstructed, and reconfigured, while raising some intriguing questions about the embodied Canadian subject.
|Nicole Dextras, Icicle Slip, Colour photograph, 2011|
In the last few decades, the dialogue between art and dress has grown exponentially, a phenomenon which has been the focus of numerous publications and museum exhibitions. This largely has to do with the extent to which clothing can be “read” as a common language, or what French cultural theorist Roland Barthes calls the “vestimentary code.” This sartorial semiotics forms the basis of much fashion theory, where it is commonplace to talk about the lexicon of dress and adornment. Certainly, nothing can so readily convey gender, status, mood, cultural affinity or play with such signs as clothing can. Nor is there an object that can infer or nuance a human presence as can apparel. As such, the increasingly persistent appearance of clothing within the corpus of largely conceptual Western art is understandable, as the dialect of dress has become a fixture of contemporary art practice. Perhaps most significantly, as the “vestimentary code” is one that everyone can decipher, works that incorporate it are particularly accessible to a wide demographic....
|Jana Sterbak, Distraction (detail), 1992, Collection Musée de l'Art Contemporain, Montreal|
...Fashionality focuses on works of art that employ dress as a primary medium, subject or sign. Artists consider a wide range of creative and conceptual possibilities, which are executed in media ranging from painting, assemblage, sculpture, and installation to video, photography, performance, and social media. Twenty-three active contemporary artists are featured, reflecting perspectives from diverse cultural and geographical purviews. Included in the show are KC Adams, Ingrid Bachmann, Lori Blondeau, Dana Claxton, Cathy Daley, Nicole Dextras, Aganetha Dyck, Jane Eccles, Gathie Falk, Farheen Haq, Barb Hunt, Michele Karch-Ackerman, Meryl McMaster, Kent Monkman, Janet Morton, Jacques Payette, Camal Pirbhai, Barbara Pratt, Ana Rewakowicz, Natalie Purschwitz, Jana Sterbak, Camille Turner, and Mary Sui Yee Wong. Together, the assorted practical and conceptual approaches of these artists speak the common language of dress and, in the process, help to define just what it is that Canadian fashionality might be.
Julia Pine, Curator
Click Here to read Pine's full statement.