Monday, May 18, 2009

Easy Tiger

The Tigersprung gallery talk at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary.

A friend of mine says that it’s okay to glance at the past, but that I shouldn’t stare. Looking to the past for cues as to where we’re headed is common. From seeking reassurance in an economic downturn to searching for inspiration for new work the past often feels like a foundation for the future. The German word Tigersprung is used to describe fashion’s leap into the past and into the ever-changing future. Tigersprung, the title of Ulrich Lehmann’s book on the history of fashion was the inspiration for the Dr. Charissa Terranova curated show at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary.

In her Saturday afternoon gallery talk Dr. Terranova pointed to time in the ephemeral nature of fashion, the commodification of art, and blurred lines between the everyday object and high art as the major concepts behind the show. The restless tiger bounding forward does seem an especially applicable metaphor for the fashion industry and has felt increasingly relatable to the plastic arts. Stories of MFA candidates picked up by galleries who are searching for the hot new thing fits lock step with a commodification of art. That also means that artwork sometimes seems to have the lifespan of a pop song rather than a symphony.

Dr. Terranova pointed to Libby Black’s sculptural recreation of couture products as a dual reference with art as a product to be bought and sold, as well as a singular object made by the artist’s hand. The blurring of lines between everyday objects and art objects has a historical basis the Dadist work of Marcel Duchamp, but remains a relevant topic a century later.

The Sundance Channel’s show Iconoclasts paired fashion designer Stella McCartney with artist Ed Rusha. At the end of the show Ms. McCartney pitched the idea of using some Rusha paintings as a fabric design for a line of clothing. A designer and an artist at the top of their respective fields coming together for a project seems like the ideal realization of the Tigersprung concept. If that collaboration came to fruition there would likely follow only a brief glance at the past before the next project would surely follow. The definition of fashion is the production and marketing of new styles of goods, with great emphasis on the new.

Charissa Terranova at The MAC

Tigersprung by Ulrich Lehmann

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