FIT Subculture Symposium Recap Pt. I

This was a real highlight of a conference. Each year F.I.T. puts a symposium on, and while I’ve wanted to go before, I’ve never felt driven to spend the travel dough until now for this subculturally themed event. And I am so glad I did. It’s at the expense of attending two conferences (PCA and CSA) which I have team papers in this spring, but the rest of my team said they could present w/o me in order for me to be able to use limited my time/money to go to this special weekend that was right up my alley. So, I flew in from Minneapolis to NYC Thursday night and flew out Saturday night. Quick trip but so worth it.

My IPod playlist on the plane and otherwise:

Tegan & Sara “The Con” (my recent choice for ‘album of the year’) and “So Jealous”

R.E.M. “Accelerate”

The Shins “Chutes Too Narrow”

Bob Mould

Lots of episodes of “The Office”

Plus MOJO‘s current issue is devoted to Motown singles so I dove into that as my Detroit hometown pride dictates I just had to by the overpriced magazine.

Being a subculture conference and all I decided to stay at the famed (infamous) Chelsea Hotel which was equally a dump and adorable. Character was an understatement as the lobby was filled with men in skirts and fur coats, seniors in sparkly berets, aging hipsters, and obvious tourists. I meant to photograph the front of room 100, where Sid killed (?) Nancy, and also the room Charles James stayed in, but honestly this whole weekend was a whirlwind so it never happened. I did however take some shots of my room so you can see the light of day realities of this Warholian architectural icon. When I first walked in to my room I was sort of horrified at its dated appearance but quickly acclimated to its quirks and decided that yes, I would in fact stay again. It’s like staying at your weird aunt or your 20 yr. old cousin’s apt. when they’re out of town. Including the oddball neighbor who starts her morning coffee and computer use at a portable table set up on her front porch (my front door) at 7am. Yeah. Wow. I know. It is a hotel/permanent residence combo place though so I tried to remember that. Below are some shots.

The Chelsea Hotel-an average room with private bath

Chelsea hotel bathroom which of course is bigger and nicer than the hotel room-that always seems to be the case in NYC

My kitchenette-surprisingly clean

There was tons of fabulous art everywhere-I meant to take more shots but here are just a handful

More Chelsea Hotel art-Outside of my room there were fabulous large scale portraits of Christo and other artists. There were also nifty sculptures in the lobby.

This is Me and Tanya Seeman at the conference. Tanya‘s a superstar costume designer/stylist (and dear friend) and gave me one of my first gigs for a sketch comedy show which was simultaneously dressing funny-men like Dave Attell and Jim Breuer and trying to brainstorm what the boogeyman looks like for a routine (sort of appropriate for the Goth symposium).
This is Me and Francesca at the conference. Francesca has the fab blog/journal Fashion Projects and is working on her dissertation on the “grotesque body” and relating it to Leigh Bowery and other 80s styles such as New Romantics. She recently finished up a fellowship at the MET.

This is Dunja Brill who recently came out with the book Goth Culture: Gender, Sexuality and Style and Zoe (whose last name I didn’t catch) who is working on her dissertation in geography on goths and globalization.

Most of my photos of the presentations didn’t turn out so hot, but this one is OK of Catherine Spooner’s lecture. Catherine has written quite a bit and I have made good use of her book Fashioning Gothic Bodies.

Friday night a bunch of us relaxed with some mandatory NY-style pizza. This is Paul Hodkinson, Hillary, and Ted Polhemus. Paul‘s book Goth: Identity, Style and Subculture was a perfect fit for the conference and his presentation gave a look into his method of inclusions and exclusions in the book and addressed concepts about conflict interpreting design symbolism and meaning, which spoke loudly to my own writing about punk style. And of course Ted has written so much it would never fit in one post, but I will plug Streetstyle: From Sidewalk to Catwalk, which is near and dear to my heart as a fav book, and also because he’s trying to do an updated reprint for the out-of-print modern classic and is in need of a publisher if you know one.

Same pizza joint. This is Me and David Muggleton. He’s got the book The Post-Subcultures Reader (which somehow I don’t have even though I’m friends with people who have chapters in it and I’m sure it’s a must have for my dissertation) and my bookshelf staple Inside Subculture: The Postmodern Meaning of Style. David‘s talk dove us into the highly relevant concept of linear timelines for subcultural development versus organic, and more amorphous or even cyclical ways of looking at the boundaries we’ve established for these social groups and lifestyles.

More pizza and great conversation. Tanya, Catherine, and Carol Tulloch who is a senior research fellow at the V & A in black visual culture. I’m bummed I’ve never seen any of the exhibits she’s curated such as the one on Rock Against Racism as they sound like they were rad.

This is Me and Tove on Saturday back at the Chelsea hotel (notice the sculptures above our heads) after bailing on Anna Sui/Andrew Bolton to have cocktails at my wacky hotel bar before I had to catch my flight. Tanya had thought Tove was the winner of Stylista but alas, she’s a secret celebrity, not a reality TV star. She’s a former fashion student who is currently working at the Whitney and soon will be getting her fashion and culture blog off the ground. She also organizes the Costume Society of America e-Newsletter which if you read Worn Through you know I grab a ton of info from.

If I can find some time this upcoming weekend I’ll put together a Part II of this post discussing the presentations, the notes I took, what seemed to be audience reactions, and my own reactions. However, I’ve got a ton of exam grading and research set up for this weekend, as well as attending a showing of Derek Jarman‘s cult classic “Jubilee” at the Walker Art Center on Saturday and my book club brunch on Sunday–so honestly-I’m not sure if it’s going to happen. If I don’t write in more detail feel free to email me with questions and comments.

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  • Emily February 18, 2009 11.53 am

    SUCH a fun post to read, Mon. What a meeting of the minds. Can’t wait for part deux! Love your pinstriped shirt, by the way!

  • Monica Sklar February 18, 2009 05.03 pm

    Thanx Em–It’s a BCBG dress. I’ve been finding I’ve been buying a lot of their stuff over the past few years. Their clothes fit surprisingly well even though you wouldn’t peg them as a brand for the curvy grrrl. At the conference I was saying it was my homage to Joan Holloway, but actually the dress pre-dates “Mad Men.” General look I was going for though. In my dreams at least.

  • Joyce Heckman February 19, 2009 12.57 pm

    Hey Monica,
    Sorry I didn’t make it to the conference. The change fee was just too expensive, and I already had stuff planned out with a bunch of friends. Boo. Next time! Glad to see you had a good time.

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