Fashion is 'In' at George Washington University Art Galleries

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Fashion is 'In' at George Washington University Art Galleries
Wang Bing, 15 Hours, 2017. 16:9 film. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris.

WASHINGTON, DC.- Much of the fashion industry is dominated by attractive models, flashy clothing and impossible beauty standards on the runway, but what about the parts you don’t see? “Fast Fashion/Slow Art” explores issues of waste and consumerism in the garment industry, while “In Fashion: Selections from the GW Collection” showcases photographs and portraits of well-known designers and individuals connected to fashion. Both exhibitions opened today at the Flagg Building, home of George Washington University’s Corcoran School of the Arts and Design.

“Fast Fashion/Slow Art” comprises films, videos, installations and performances by a diverse group of emerging and established contemporary artists and filmmakers who, collectively, encourage scrutiny of today’s garment industry. Sustainability, both in terms of labor and the environment, has become a pressing issue with regard to fashion. This is especially true when we consider fast fashion: inexpensive, trendy clothing produced for a mass market. This show encourages consideration of the complexities of the garment industry that is part of our everyday lives.

“We would like visitors to think about the origins of the clothing they wear, the environmental impact of its production and its cost in human labor,” co-curator Bibiana Obler, an associate professor of art history at GW, said.

“Although this exhibition cannot solve the intractable problems plaguing the textile and clothing industry, it can be a place from which to address those issues with creativity and imagination,” co-curator Phyllis Rosenzweig, a curator emerita at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, added.

“Fast Fashion/Slow Art” features artists and filmmakers from China, Denmark, Germany, Norway and the U.S., including Julia Brown, Carole Frances Lung, Cat Mazza, Senga Nengudi, Martha Rosler, Hito Steyerl, Martin de Thurah, Rosemarie Trockel and Wang Bing. Also presented as part of the exhibition are two web programs, “Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt” and “Sweatshop—Deadly Fashion.”

“Fast Fashion/Slow Art” is organized by the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine, in cooperation with the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, and the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. The exhibition will close on Dec. 15 and then travel to Bowdoin in Jan. 2020.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to partner with the George Washington University to demonstrate the important role the arts can play in opening up questions about the fashion industry and related questions regarding labor, sustainability and handcraft,” Anne Collins Goodyear, co-director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, noted. “We want to shine a light on these important issues, giving them increased visibility and providing visitors with an opportunity to reconsider their own relationship to textiles, design and clothing today.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog, published by Scala, with an introduction by the curators and guest essays by scholars Pietra Rivoli, Kirsty Robertson and Thuy Linh Nguyen Tu.

“In Fashion: Selections from the GW Collection,” is a companion exhibition at GW’s Luther W. Brady Art Gallery. Fashion designers can become synonymous with their designs—a little black dress, a handbag or a scarf—that become the most popular item of the moment. But the face of the designer hasn’t always been as prominent as the creation. A number of the photographs on view are portraits of well-known designers, models and fashion industry insiders including Carolina Herrera, Neiman Marcus, Mick Jagger, Tippi Hedren and Brigitte Bardot. “In Fashion: Selections from the GW Collection” will close on Oct. 27, 2019.

“Fashion and photography have long been synonymous. The alliance between artists and celebrities, as in the case of Andy Warhol, relates to the fashion scene in New York of the late 1970s and 1980s,” Lenore Miller, director of the Brady Gallery, said. “We are excited to share works from GW’s art collection including a print by Larry Rivers and a drawing by Jody Mussoff.”

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