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July 22 2014

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Clothes as Personal History at Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s First U.S. Show

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dgf1We mostly know about how the appearance of art has influenced fashion in moments like the Mondrian dress by Yves Saint Laurent in 1965, or more recently when Raf Simons and Sterling Ruby collaborated on an actual men’s collection.

On the other hand, what we rarely see is how fashion can influence the work of an artist. The conceptual wearable sculptures of Franz Erhard Walther and Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece” performance in the sixties come to mind, but Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s first U.S. show, Euqinimod & Costumes, might be the most detailed artistic experience of fashion yet.

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The show is an archeological account of her own wardrobe and how each piece of clothing displayed relates to another experience in her own personal and artistic history. (The show includes clothing from her childhood.) The fashion items are recontextualized as part of a journey into the artist’s biographical narrative: Comme des Garçons for the eighties, Maison Martin Margiela for the nineties, and, of course, Balenciaga for the 2000s (Gonzalez-Foerster has been a longtime friend and collaborator of then-designer Nicolas Ghesquière, notably designing the Los Angeles and Paris store).

Like a map of her own memories, each T-shirt, dress, and jacket is linked to a photograph, a painting reproduction, or even a piece of furniture with actual physical strings that stretch across the room from an endless coatrack that vertically divides the space.

Gonzalez-Foerster teaches us that time adds a layer of content to what we wear, transforming it into a physical souvenir that carries around the experience we’ve been through while wearing it. Fashion transforms our appearance, but our own life has transformed the clothes. Which explains why there are always some pieces we just cannot get rid off.

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Euqinimod & Costumes is on view through May 31 at 303 Gallery, 507 West 24th Street, New York, NY.

Photos: © Dominique Gonzalez-Foerste; Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York; Alexis Dahan

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Dept. of Culture