mon 01/06/2020

Art Gallery: GSK Contemporary - Aware: Art Fashion Identity | reviews, news & interviews

Art Gallery: GSK Contemporary - Aware: Art Fashion Identity

Art Gallery: GSK Contemporary - Aware: Art Fashion Identity

The thinking person's wardrobe? Fashion meets conceptual art

Fashion and conceptual art come together, sometimes awkwardly, often provocatively, in the Royal Academy’s third and final annual GSK Contemporary exhibition. Instead of celebrating glamour and excess, designers and artists – as well as those, such as Helen Storey (1) and Hussein Chalayan, who have successfully made a fashion to art crossover - take on big themes: cultural and personal identity, conformity and freedom, globalisation and the environment. The exhibition explores the shifting concerns that have preoccupied these practitioners over the past five decades.

Storey addresses the environmental impact of fashion with a biodegradable dress; Susie MacMurray (2) shows an evening dress which shimmers with thousands of needles and is designed to keep people at bay; Grayson Perry (3) evokes the myth of the artist as seer and shaman with an appliqued ceremonial robe featuring embroidered eyes; Yohji Yamamoto (4) and Mella Jaarsma (9) explore dress as protection and shelter, with Jaarsma taking this concept rather literally; Azra Akšamija (5) shows a garment that conveniently doubles up as an Islamic prayer mat; Dai Rees (6), Cindy Sherman (7) and Yoko Ono (8) each explore ideas connected with gender (a trio of hanging “carcasses” made from a Fifties Vogue dress pattern by Rees, an invitation for audience members to cut away pieces of her clothing - ultimately leaving her naked - by Ono, Sherman playing the role of a paper dressing-up doll); finally, Gillian Wearing (10) attempts to get a sense of individuality behind starched uniforms by training a camera on a group of police officers for 60 minutes - needless to say the mask of authority soon slips as each begins to fidget and stratch.

Click an image below to enter gallery.


  1. Helen Storey, Say Goodbye, 2010
  2. Susie MacMurray, Widow, 2004, Manchester City Galleries
  3. Grayson Perry, Artists' Robe, 2004, © Grayson Perry, Courtesy of artist and Victoria Miro Gallery
  4. Yohji Yamamoto Autumn/Winter 1991-92, Femmes Collection © Thierry Chomel for Yohji Yamamoto
  5. Azra Akšamija, Nomadic Mosque, 2005 © Azra Akšamija and Jörg Mohr
  6. Dai Rees, Carapace: Triptych, The Butcher's Window, 2003
  7. Cindy Sherman, Doll Clothes, 1975 © Cindy Sherman/Sammlung Verbund, Vienna/Sprüth Magers Berlin London
  8. Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, 1965. Filmed at Carnegie Hall, New York by Albert & David Maysles, courtesy of Yoko Ono
  9. Mella Jaarsma, Shelter Me, 2005, courtesy Mella Jaarsma, © DACS
  10. Gillian Wearing, Sixty Minute Silence, 1996, courtesy Maureen Paley London

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