THREADS OF MEAN­ING

Gene Sher­man, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Sher­man Con­tem­po­rary Art Foun­da­tion, and Ira­nian-Aus­tralian artist Nasim Nasr dis­cuss fash­ion as forms of art and iden­tity.

VOGUE Australia - - Contents - STYLING PETTA CHUA PHO­TO­GRAPH DUN­CAN KIL­LICK

Art pa­tron Gene Sher­man and Ira­nian-Aus­tralian artist Nasim Nasr dis­cuss fash­ion as forms of art and iden­tity.

VOGUE: THE SHER­MAN CEN­TRE FOR CUL­TURE & IDEAS (SCCI) PRO­GRAM LAUNCHES NEXT MONTH, FO­CUS­ING ON CON­TEM­PO­RARY FASH­ION AND AR­CHI­TEC­TURE. GENE, WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SHINE A SPOT­LIGHT ON FASH­ION AS ART?

GENE SHER­MAN: “When I opened Sher­man Gal­leries, ideas around cul­ture were in­cor­po­rated into my vi­sion, in­clud­ing talks about con­tem­po­rary art and its in­ter­sec­tion with other top­ics; the no­tion of an ex­change of ideas has been im­por­tant to me from the out­set. Af­ter 21 years I de­cided to ex­pand the gallery’s re­mit from con­tem­po­rary vis­ual art to con­tem­po­rary vis­ual prac­tice, in­clud­ing fash­ion, de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture, within the con­text of a not-for-profit foun­da­tion. With the Sher­man Con­tem­po­rary Art Foun­da­tion I com­mis­sioned mul­ti­ple new works and showed ex­ist­ing works and we had an ac­tive and en­gag­ing Ideas Pro­gramme, which en­cour­aged en­gage­ment with a wide au­di­ence. “I strug­gled some­what with the fash­ion shows and was de­ter­mined to avoid the main­stream topic of frocks in stores. In­stead, I aimed to en­cour­age in peo­ple an un­der­stand­ing of fash­ion as a se­ri­ous cul­tural en­deav­our. I cu­rated one fash­ion show called Feel and Think fea­tur­ing a group of Ja­panese fash­ion de­sign­ers whose ‘non-wear­able’ cre­ations pushed bound­aries. The ex­hi­bi­tion was such a suc­cess that I grasped then and there a hunger to con­sider fash­ion in a dif­fer­ent way.” VOGUE: NASIM, YOUR PER­FOR­MANCE,

WOMEN IN SHADOW, IS IN­CLUDED IN THE SE­RIES. TELL US ABOUT THIS WORK.

NASIM NASR: “I was al­ways fas­ci­nated by the idea of women in Western out­fits and it be­ing more lib­eral and free be­cause you don’t have to wear some­thing be­cause of the rules of your coun­try or the rules of your re­li­gion. I was fas­ci­nated by this be­cause I grew up in a coun­try where women don’t have the choice of what to wear in pub­lic. When I came to Aus­tralia my art ca­reer was shaped by the fact that I had the free­dom to do what­ever I liked to do and wear what­ever I liked to wear. I was also in­ter­ested in cul­tural dif­fer­ences be­tween East and West, which has been a ma­jor play in my art­work since 2009. So I thought there must be a way to con­nect these two with art­work. For me it was al­ways how much an one’s iden­tity can trans­form when you wear some­thing cor­po­rate and when you wear some­thing re­laxed or some­thing as a sig­na­ture of your style, more artis­tic … So I set up this fash­ion pa­rade per­for­mance based on my ma­jor in­ter­ests and ques­tion­ing how much you can be con­trolled by what you wear, es­pe­cially as women.” VOGUE: DO YOU THINK FASH­ION IS UN­DER-VAL­UED AS AN ART FORM? GS: “Yes, I feel the fo­cus on shop­ping might cloud our un­der­stand­ing of fash­ion, which clearly has mul­ti­ple ad­di­tional lay­ers, as se­ri­ous as con­tem­po­rary art or ar­chi­tec­ture. The beauty of the pieces is an im­por­tant el­e­ment and of­ten re­lated to the crafts­man­ship. How­ever, the tex­tiles, the sus­tain­abil­ity and the process from thread to fin­ished gar­ment are equally im­por­tant. Fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy, fash­ion il­lus­tra­tion, the role of fash­ion in film and books are all wor­thy of at­ten­tion. Aes­thet­ics ver­sus func­tion­al­ity, fash­ion and tech­nol­ogy, cos­tume and more are all of in­ter­est to me.” VOGUE: NASIM, WHAT IN­SPIRES YOU AR­TIS­TI­CALLY ABOUT FASH­ION? NN: “What re­ally in­ter­ests me is the creative think­ing of the de­sign­ers. When I sit down and talk to de­sign­ers such as Carla Zampatti, Alis­tair

Trung and Akira Iso­gawa, I feel that creative artis­tic point comes from the mo­ment of de­sign and when I see them put things, ideas and sketches on pa­per and it’s that that fas­ci­nates me.” VOGUE: GENE, HAS FASH­ION SHAPED YOUR IDEN­TITY?

GS: “Hugely. In ’85, I dis­cov­ered a shop run by Rhonda Parry. I saw some clothes in the win­dow and asked her about the de­sign­ers. They were, in fact, Ja­panese con­tem­po­rary fash­ion pi­o­neers Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yo­hji Ya­mamoto. When I first vis­ited Ja­pan in ’87 I de­cided to track them down, a de­ci­sion that started a jour­ney I am still on. I have a wear­ing wardrobe of 35 to 40 mostly black gar­ments by the same three de­sign­ers. Fash­ion is the pri­mary form through which I project my iden­tity.” VOGUE: WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON ETHICS IN THE FASH­ION IN­DUS­TRY? NN: “I see ev­ery­thing through an artist’s lens, so for me to place my­self in the fash­ion and de­signer’s place could be dif­fi­cult. In my opin­ion fash­ion brands can eas­ily lose feel­ing and mean­ing un­less they have hon­esty and trust, in­tegrity and con­ti­nu­ity within them.”

GS: “I think se­ri­ously about ethics re­gard­ing fash­ion. It is im­por­tant to recog­nise that peo­ple de­serve to earn a de­cent liv­ing and are treated as we our­selves would wish to be treated. I avoid fast fash­ion and have shaped my per­sonal style to en­able longevity.” The SCCI Hub Se­ries is on in Syd­ney from April 5 to 21. For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.scci.org.au.

“In my opin­ion, fash­ion brands can eas­ily lose feel­ing and mean­ing un­less they have hon­esty and trust, in­tegrity and con­ti­nu­ity within them”

Gene Sher­man (left) wears her own Ann De­meule­meester coat. Issey Miyake shirt. Yo­hji Ya­mamoto belt, worn through­out. Sean O’Con­nell ban­gle, worn through­out. Karl Fritsch ring, worn through­out. Nasim Nasr wears an Akira Iso­gawa ki­mono, $695, worn...

Nasim Nasr takes artis­tic con­trol in the stu­dio. The artist wears a Song for the Mute dress, $895, from Har­rolds. Her own shoes. Gene Sher­man wears her own Comme des Garçons coat and Cé­line shoes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.