Two Fashion, Art, and Design Collective Exhibitions in New York City

Recently I’ve been alerted to two different takes on art & design collaboration that are ongoing in New York City right now.  The first comes from The Museum of Art and Design with their announcement that the design label JF & Son has been selected for a 2013 design residency at the museum.

JF & Son S/S 2013 collection, via JF & Son website

The venture began with a small S/S fashion presentation at the MAD museum on September 8th and will continue through February 2013 culminating with a final runway show, and filled with a variety of public events hosted at the museum as the collection is developed.  The project title: Epic Failure is described by the museum as follows:

Since 2007, the studio JF & SON has been probing the landscape of contemporary design through an experimental fashion practice. During its four-month residency at MAD, JF & SON will create Epic Failure, the studio’s first formal collection of projects exploring the effects of globalization, risk analysis, and sabotage of production processes. Through a series of tests, research projects, lectures, and films, Epic Failure will expand JF & SON’s explorations into the democratization of design; manufacturing in today’s climate; how the consumer relates to the design process; and above all, what new aesthetics can arise from all this.

Although they are a relatively newer design label, JF & Son began as a textile production company, then retail space venturing into the realm of clothing, and now a fine-art/design collaborative venture through their conceptual project for the MAD museum.

Installation shot: Bernadette Corporation: 2000 Wasted Years.  Image via Worn Through.

With the reverse methodology, the current Artist’s Space retrospective on The Bernadette Corporation entitled: 2000 Wasted Years, provides an overview of the activities of this art collective that fuses a parody of the fashion industry, removing the ‘fashion’ from the clothes with their ironically half-hearted attempts at creative design, and replacing it with some of the most fashionable signifiers of downtown NYC art world culture.

Installation shots: Bernadette Corporation: 2000 Wasted Years.  Image via Worn Through.

The installation includes a timeline that begins in 1993 with the founding of the collective along with video, garments, digital issues of their publication Made in the USA (which are available for purchase as downloads), poetry, and even screenplays.

Actress Chloe Sevigny in Bernadette Corporation Clothing.  Image from The Face, May 1996.

I’ve included installation shots from this retrospective to give a glimpse of what the exhibition includes.  Although parts of it are thought provoking, the overall tone is a little disappointingly obvious.  There are many designers within the contemporary fashion industry that have done a far superior job of commenting on consumer culture and the evils of capitalism, with the same amount of clever wit, and many times over the technical and conceptual skill with the garments and runway presentations themselves.

Installation shot: Bernadette Corporation: 2000 Wasted Years.  Image via Worn Through.

Yet, despite this the exhibition is still worth a visit, especially for those that are interested in considering the overlaps between the contemporary design and art world.  A small pamphlet was produced to accompany the show which chronicles their F/W 1997 collection presentation and the exhibition is on view through December 16th, 2012.

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