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Museum of Arts and Design to examine garmenting in upcoming exhibition

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Jan 7, 2022


Image: Mary Sibande, The Domba Dance, 2019. Courtesy the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago. Photo: John Lusis.

New York’s Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) is hosting the first exhibition dedicated to the use of clothing as a medium of visual art, entitled ‘Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art’ this spring.

Running from March 12 until August 14, ‘Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art’ will examine the work of 35 international contemporary artists, from established names to emerging voices, several of whom will be exhibiting for the first time in the US.

The exhibit will showcase the making or altering of clothing for expressive purposes, with the artists creating garments, sculpture, installation, and performance art that transforms dress into a critical tool “for exploring issues of subjectivity, identity, and difference”.

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, the exhibition will highlight how garmenting uses the language of fashion to challenge traditional divisions of form and function, casting a critical eye on the construction of gender, advance political activism, and address cultural difference.

‘Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art’ will span two floors of the museum and will be organised around five interrelated themes - functionality, gender, activism, cultural difference, and performance.

Commenting on the exhibition, Schwartz said in a statement: “Despite the current ubiquity of garmenting as a visual arts practice, it has not previously been examined or theorised. This exhibition centres 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.”

Elissa Auther, deputy director of curatorial affairs and William and Mildred Lasdon chief curator, added: “Garmenting furthers MAD’s mission to connect handcraft and design to the global contemporary art world. 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.”

Artists set to be featured in the exhibition includes Xenobia Bailey, Raphaël Barontini, Zoë Buckman, Nick Cave, Jeffrey Gibson, Annette Messager, Mary Sibande, Nazareth Pacheco, Mark Newport, Yinka Shonibare, Jakkai Siributr and Andrea Zittel.

‘Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art’ will open at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York on March 12.