Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Creative Process Journal: The Dress in The Museum

Untitled by Valerie Belin, 1997
This dress, stuffed with archival tissue, is from a series of works by French photographer Valerie Belin that were exhibited at the Musee des Beaux-Arts in an exhibition called "State of Things, States of Places" in 1997. The work is described in the exhibition catalogue as follows: "These dresses are like bodily remains...still moulded in places to the shape of their former presence, giving the appearance of the body itself." (Muller 78)

Having been behind the scenes in many museums, and having surreptitiously taken a few photos of beautiful things inside museum storage facilities, I am drawn to this photo.... It evokes so many things for me including the duality of beauty and decay, life and death, as well as my affinity for museums and  the ephemeral nature of fashion.

If I could, I would create a series of photos taken behind the scenes in a museum like the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musee de la Mode in Paris... But baring that, I will have to find some other way of depicting this idea. It seems to bring me back full circle to the original source of inspiration for this creative project, which was a quote from Elizabeth Wilson's book Adorned in Dreams when she wrote:
"The living observer moves with a sense of mounting panic, through a world of the dead…We experience a sense of the uncanny when we gaze at garments that had an intimate relationship with human beings long since gone to their graves. For clothes are so much part of our living, moving selves that, frozen on display in the mausoleums of culture, they hint at something only half understood, sinister, threatening, the atrophy of the body, and the evanescent of life.” (Wilson 1).


Muller, Florence. art and fashion. London: Thames & Hudson, 2000
Wilson, Elizabeth. Adorned in Dreams. London: Virago Press, 1985.

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