Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fashion designers as identity makers

In the book "The art of self-invention, image and identity in popular Visual Culture", the author explains that “much of popular culture reinforces the importance we place on physical appearance as indicative of identity.” This idea is decoded by the use of clothing. The power of dress demonstrates the importance to communicate the differences in terms of nationality, social status, and gender. New social and sexual identities investigate the complexities of contemporary culture which are translated in Hussein Chalayan’s garments. In the world of imagery, representation and subjectivity, woman becomes a desirable image. In the late 20th century, the androgynous figure long-ledged, small-breasted, with a slender silhouette is the social norm. The frail skeleton silhouette seen epitomized in current Medias is considered a Western social norm. Human activities are controlled by the present consumer culture, leading to patterns that may differ from personal views and opinions on the external world. Thinking about identity is a useful technique for shaping the world to our liking. It also makes us more vulnerable then fashion commodities as sources of identity. What are the social consequences of using material goods to display identity? Historically, possession of goods has been a reliable guide to social status. The status of embodied experiences within these processes continues to focus on object-body.

In 2005, Hussein Chalayan showed in Turkey his film "The Absent Presence" which displayed the relationship of the real and the imagined with a series of collected clothes and deformed crystallized garments. The artist treated in a 3D manipulation a DNA extraction process from the clothes collected from unknown people and an anthropological evaluation. This cross-disciplined installation with filmic images and sculpture reveals the approach of Chalayan to the dilemma of identity. Chalayan’s multi-layered narratives are sculpted into neo-mythological and futuristic visual rituals.

In this project he deals with the distressed issue of identity as DNA, and its reflection in the geopolitical situation. The artist points out how certain identities can or cannot adapt to new environments.


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