Beautiful Repair: mending in Art and Fashion
January 02 – April 09, 2023
A big, experimental group show at Copenhagen Contemporary presents a new phenomenon in the intersection of art and fashion: the aesthetics of mending. In Beautiful Repair, a stellar array of spectacular, tactile works unfold the visual and material vocabulary of a new creative generation, sparking a conversation about the importance of craft, concepts of beauty, resources and the sociocultural role of dress as a form of expression. A new aesthetic phenomenon is spreading across the worlds of art and fashion: the aesthetics of mending. For a new generation of artists and designers, recycled materials, dead stock, and sophisticated mending techniques are fuelling the creation of valuable narratives and ornamentation, giving new life to clothes and providing fertile ground for new aesthetic expression.
Throughout modernity, artists have been fascinated by clothing as a means of change. Apparel can be a political statement or a form of personal expression. Conversely, many designers take inspiration from fine art. Beautiful Repair shows the exchange between the two creative fields coming together in an exploration of clothes, our “second skin”. The exhibition presents 15 Danish and international artists and fashion designers, some for the first time in Denmark: Zadie Xa (b. 1983, Canada), Rasmus Myrup (b. 1991, Denmark), Elina Heilanen (b. 1992, Finland), Minna Palmqvist (b. 1980, Finland), Lee Mingwei (b. 1964, Taiwan), Marie Sloth Rousing (b. 1990, Denmark) and Anna Clarisse Holck Wæhrens (b. 1993, Denmark), Pia Camil (b. 1980, Mexico), Chopova Lowena (Emma Chopova, b. 1991, Bulgaria & Laura Lowena b. 1991, UK) and Holly Blakey (b. 1987, UK), Idaliina Friman (b. 1991, Finland), Tenant of Culture (b. 1990, Netherlands), ALL-IN (Bror August Vestbø, b. 1997, Norway & Benjamin Barron, b. 1993, USA), Ella Morris (1998, UK), Kristine Sehested-Blad (b. 1992, Denmark), Beatrice Stenmark (b. 1995, Sweden) and Rottingdean Bazaar (Luke Brooks, b. 1986 & James Theseus Buck, b. 1989, both UK).
Beautiful Repair explores the aesthetics of mending in contemporary art and fashion according to the concept that there is beauty in a great variety of visual expressions and imperfections. The Mending Project, a large-scale, participatory artwork by Lee Mingwei, invites visitors to bring in a piece of clothing in need of mending and share a personal story of what it means to them. Over the course of the exhibition, Mingwei and a staff of volunteers trained by the artist will repair the garments in a unique way, incorporating personal history and related memories. The garment is connected to the installation via the thread used to repair it, as the work is augmented with piles of clothes and personal histories.
The Finnish designer Elina Heilanen creates exciting fashion with stylistic inspiration from the Renaissance and outerwear aesthetics. Her textiles are dead-stock materials hand-printed with marbling effects, dyed by various processes and held together by drawstring details making the clothes adjustable and perpetually alterable. Spotlighting mending as a ritual and ornament, Beautiful Repair points to the need for care on a much greater scale – in our interpersonal relationships, as well as in our relationship to objects, materials, and the planet’s resources.
The aesthetics of mending appear in both art and fashion as a celebration of imperfection and personal history. The exhibition’s artists and designers merge climate awareness with an interest in the fundamental human need for self-expression through clothes. Showing how sustainability ties into creativity, craft, and aesthetic expression, Beautiful Repair asks, how do we communicate with the world around us through fashion? And what importance do we assign to the objects we surround ourselves with – as a society and in our personal lives?
The exhibition is curated by CC’s director, Marie Laurberg, in partnership with ALPHA director Ane Lynge-Jorlén. The exhibition will be launched on 31 January at CC with a big opening and a public party, organized in collaboration with Copenhagen Fashion Week, kicking off a weeklong celebration of new fashion talents and creative growth layers. The exhibition is supported by Poses.