September 12, 2018 - Kunsthalle Bern - Independence / Passageways: On Fashion's Runway
September 12, 2018

Kunsthalle Bern

Courtesy Kunsthalle Bern.

Independence
September 22–December 2, 2018

Passageways: On Fashion's Runway
October 13–December 2, 2018

Opening Independence: September 21, 6–9pm
Opening Passageways: On Fashion's Runway: October 12, 6–9pm
Guided tour: October 13, 2–4pm, with Matthew Linde (fashion curator)
Lecture: October 30, 7–9pm, by Alexis Schwarzenbach (historian, writer)

Kunsthalle Bern
Helvetiaplatz 1
CH-3005 Bern
Switzerland

kunsthalle-bern.ch
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Independence
What kind of independence is being declared here? Is it the independence from the Kunsthalle which shows one’s work, from the market, or in general from the constraints of being in the world? Independence in art has long meant freedom of artistic creation. There was this idea that it was financially independent and that, because of this, it was able to do more or less as it wishes. And artists long represented the projection surface of a life freed from many constraints. Yet this unrealistic notion that artists have the freedom you, as a civic subject, do not dare to take has meanwhile been largely abandoned. First, artists for some while addressed—with almost masochistic self-enjoyment—the constraints of their institutions, and then everything became precarious. In the long run, both didn’t work well. Constantly taking the freedom to point to the unfreedom of one’s situation at some point smacked of paid criticism. And the discourse about one’s own precariousness ran the risk of complaining at a high level, while the voices of the really poor remain inaudible.

The artist presented in this exhibition remains nameless, for now. As a visitor, I can wonder whether it is worth travelling to the opening when it remains unclear who is hiding behind the anonymity. To the artist, on the other hand, it may offer the freedom to place special emphasis on the exhibition itself rather than on the name in advertising the show. While the name may represent a promise or create certain expectations, self-imposed anonymity flirts with seduction through the appeal of the mysterious. At the same time, however, incognito strategies are all the more tantalising for paparazzi.
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Passageways: On Fashion's Runway
Curated by Matthew Linde

The origins of the fashion show reveal a constellation where the body, commerce and modernity converge. Described as a theatre without narrative, fashion’s runway illuminates the paradox of irrational mutability and mechanical standardisation. The “first” runway could be understood as the practice of couturiers sending living mannequins (what we now call models) into the public boulevard sporting new designs, eliciting shock and photographic dissemination. This animation of bodies performing novelty in urban life foregrounded the format we know today: models passing along a strip flanked by their consuming onlookers. Runways express the formaldehyde of a culture in flux. While technological treatments of the runway have modified since its emergence at the turn of the 19th century, its underlying edifice has remained largely intact. Despite this ongoing scenographic sameness, various designers have explored the runway as a discursive site to interrogate the mechanics of fashion’s circulation. These runway experiments reconfigure the relations between audiences, arrangements of space, the carnivalesque body and the haunting of its commodity form. Leaping from Paul Poiret’s epic 1911 A Thousand and Second Night, the designers exhibited at Kunsthalle Bern have approached the runway-as-medium, using it twofold to extend and challenge the ideas within their own practice as well as the fashion system at large.
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