November 16, 2006

The role of the museum?

The coverage of fashion in museum and gallery curated exhibitions has played a large role in its greater cultural acceptance as an artistic product. Which is why I thought that today's NY Times article is interesting because it points out the key problem with putting fashion in a curatorial/art context - its relations to consumer culture and the world of commerce. How is the curator going to make this exhibit different than the window display of the same fashions at the Bergdorf windows??? Does it matter? In our postmodern world, this is of course the dilemma of practitioners and theorists alike.

Any thoughts?

Couldn’t Make It to Paris? The Catwalk Comes to Boston (Click for full article)

AT the entrance to “Fashion Show: Paris Collections 2006,” the first costume exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in more than a decade, visitors face a video projection of life-size models catwalking toward a recessed door so narrow and shadowed that the crowd assembled there recalls the stylish scrum that forms in Paris, outside the tents of the Tuileries Gardens, whenever a big designer shows.

“Fashion Show” is made up of pieces from 10 recent Paris collections, shown on mannequins mounted to re-creations of the runways on which Yohji Yamamoto, Viktor & Rolf, Chanel, Dior and others originally presented their collections. But any resemblance to the experience of going to those shows begins and ends right at the door.

A museum show about fashion shows provides new fodder for debate among art critics and curatorial purists over the increasingly commercial direction of many museums. Nevertheless, Malcolm Rogers, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, unflinchingly described his strategy in W magazine this month: “I want to make the MFA the style capital of the museum world.” But for those who are tabulating the cultural value of elevating the fashion industry’s most effective marketing tool — the runway — into a subject for serious discourse in an institution of fine arts, “Fashion Show” provides as much unexpected substance as it does eye candy.

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