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Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art at Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), March 14 – August 14, 2022

“The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) presents Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art, the first global survey exhibition dedicated to the use of clothing as a medium of visual art. On view March 12 to August 14, 2022, the exhibition examines work by thirty-five international contemporary artists, from established names to emerging voices, several of whom will be exhibiting for the first time in the United States. By either making or altering clothing for expressive purposes, these artists create garments, sculpture, installation, and performance art that transforms dress into a critical tool for exploring issues of subjectivity, identity, and difference.

Garmenting as an artistic strategy emerged during the 1960s and 1970s. Its rise is linked to performance art, as garments used in installations often double as costumes in live and video- based performances. The practice came to increased prominence during the 1990s, its flourishing paralleling the emerging effects of globalization. With its emphasis on craft and the unique object, garmenting has been adopted globally by artists seeking ways to respond to the twenty-first-century blurring of socioeconomic boundaries, cultures, and identities. While some celebrate the hybridization of cultures resulting from globalization, others protest the fading of regional and ethnic traditions and communities; and many do both simultaneously. No matter their perspective, all these artists’ practices were shaped by transnational creative—and commercial—exchange.” — MAD

Installation view of Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Photo by Jenna Bascom; courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design
Installation view of Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Photo by Jenna Bascom; courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design
Installation view of Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Photo by Jenna Bascom; courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design
Mary Sibande. The Domba Dance, 2019. Life-size fiberglass, bronze, cotton, and silicone, 157 1/2 × 98 × 118 1/8 in. (400.1 × 248.9 × 300 cm).
Installation view of Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Photo by Jenna Bascom; courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design
Nick Cave. Left: Soundsuit, 2018. Mixed media including vintage textile and sequined appliqués, metal and mannequin Center: Hustle Coat, 2017. Mixed media including trench coat, cast bronze hand, metal, costume jewelry, watches and chains Right: Soundsuit, 2006. Easter grass, mirrors, cotton, paint, appliqué. Photo by Jenna Bascom; courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design
Devan Shimoyama. February II, 2019. Silk flowers, rhinestones, jewelry, sequins, and embroidered patch on cotton hoodie with steel armature, coated wire and fishing line, 45 × 72 × 12 in. (114.3 × 182.9 × 30.5 cm). Courtesy Private Collection and De Buck Gallery, New York. Photo: Phoebe dHeurle
Installation view of Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Photo by Jenna Bascom; courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design
Installation view of Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Photo by Jenna Bascom; courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design
Jeffrey Gibson. The Anthropophagic Effect, Garment no. 4, 2019. Canvas, satin, cotton, brass grommets, nylon thread, artificial sinew, split reed, glass and plastic beads, nylon ribbon, 58 × 72 in. (147.3 × 182.9 cm). Courtesy the artist and Sikkema Jenkins Co., New York.
Jaamil Olawale Kosoko. Chameleon (a visual album), 2020. Digital video. Photo by Jenna Bascom; courtesy the Museum of Arts and Design
A young Yu. DMZ Performance (performance still), 2020. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Matthew Yu
Saya Woolfalk, Expedition to the ChimaCloud. Digital video installation, textiles, painted metal, and 3D prints, 300 × 36 × 267 in. (762 × 91.4 × 678.1 cm). As installed March 1–September 1, 2019, in the Project Space at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. Courtesy Nelson-Atkins Media Services. Photo: Dana Anderson

“Despite the current ubiquity of garmenting as a visual arts practice, it has not previously been examined or theorized. This exhibition centers contemporary artists’ exploration of dress as a formal trope and critical tool, using the language of fashion to address fundamental aspects of subjectivity, including gender, class, race, and ethnicity.” — Alexandra Schwartz

The exhibition is guest curated by Alexandra Schwartz, a New York-based art historian, curator, and adjunct professor in the School of Graduate Studies at SUNY | Fashion Institute of Technology. 

Images courtesy Museum of Arts and Design.

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