The Hepworth: Disobedient Bodies by JW Anderson

‘In this elegant, exciting project, the fashion pieces that Anderson has chosen to isolate and re-contextualize certainly take on a potency and a power to move that transcends the desire and allure of the runway.’ – Vogue

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Image Source: http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/disobedient-bodies/ (Last Accessed: 17th May 2017)

I found this exhibition really interesting as fashion designer Jonathan Anderson, has taken it upon himself to explore the human form in art in relation to fashion and design as two separate but combined entities and fields, noting how the human form itself has been perceived and relayed by different artists and designers across both the 20th and 21st centuries, utilising a series of sculptures curated with a range of garments from a combination of successful designers and fashion houses. I felt that this collaborative approach allowed for different messages and meanings to be interpreted depending on the particular piece one was viewing.

I find that with my current project, it is interesting to think that designers have to account for the way which bodies are put on the runway and how they are perceived through their shape and the shape created by the garments and forms designed for them. With this being said, I also felt that there were underlying elements of gender issues being noted through the pieces in the exhibition, especially looking at the shape of the forms which are on display, both in regard to the famous and well recognised sculptures juxtaposed with garments.

Gender, along with body and body image, is something which I am talking about in my FMP magazine and how rising male stars in the cosmetic and beauty industry have only been recently ‘accepted’, where as in fashion this appears to also be the case, with slow and late transitions. Menswear collections have always been around, but have only taken major precedent on the runways in the past 2 decades, being seen now as an equal and just as lucrative/important territory to work within, promote and to feel passionate about. In addition, ‘male sculptures’ wearing female clothes echoes a political argument of transgender and gender confusion which is now more common and again, accepted than ever before. I felt that this was also shown really well by the complementary photography shown throughout the exhbition by Jamie Hawkesworth which brought these feelings and ideologies to life in a more to the point manner.

I also felt that the name ‘disobedient bodies’ is more relevant than ever in regard to not only my project but current day society and how the media and fashion industries put pressure on one to conform and be, look and act a certain way. The idea of not complying and showcasing a range of ‘bodies’, silhouettes and shapes allows for one to feel more confident and comfortable with their own identities rather than needing to ‘fit in’, and is also quite empowering. I also found that Anderson taking 123 photos of school children wearing the garments shown in the exhibition even more powerful, in the sense gives a critical view and angle proving that size, body and shape can be juxtaposed in new and unseen ways to prove a point of how we reimagine or subvert a body from what is expected into something new, as well as almost stating to expect the unexpected within the worlds of fashion and art.

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