Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art
MAD Museum of Arts and Design
March 12 – August 14, 2022
The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) will present 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, allthese artists’ practices were shaped by transnational creative – and commercial – exchange. 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.
Schwartz remarked, “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.”
“Garmenting furthers MAD’s mission to connect handcraft and design to the global contemporary art world,” said Elissa Auther, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator.
“The artists brought together share objectives of upending tired distinctions between the fine and applied arts, creating work that explores the essential relationship between the body and the garments that adorn it.” The exhibition will comprise garments, sculpture, installation, video, and live performances. Spanning two floors of the Museum, Garmenting includes an introduction to the concept of garmenting and its historical antecedents and is organized around five interrelated themes.