The physique seen within the mirror: vogue and psyche

“Mirror, mirror on the wall…”: the well-known phrases of the evil queen in Snow White encourage the title of the brand new exhibition underway at MoMu, the Trend Museum in Antwerp, ‘Mirror Mirror – Trend & the Psyche’, open till 26 February and in addition extending into Dr. Guislain Museum, within the constructing in Ghent that was Belgium’s oldest psychiatric hospital. In referring to the fairy-tale (which, like all fairy-tales, is a metaphor of human dynamics), the curators give attention to the connection between us and our picture, mediated by the equipment of clothes. Their intention is to focus not on vogue, however on the physique itself: how it’s understood, interpreted, replicated, dressed, and the way vogue is a robust medium reflecting our inside id and, above all, our conflicts. “This time, the physique is central,” notes MoMu director Kaat Debo, “together with how it’s portrayed by vogue designers and artists, within the analogue in addition to the digital world round us, with its ever higher presence. We show this in immersive scenography, which can hopefully be capable to encourage our guests.”.

The really revolutionary viewpoint of curators Elisa De Wyngaert and Yoon Hee Lamot begins with a vital take a look at our imaginative and prescient of ourselves. The primary part of the exhibition appears to be like at how we understand ourselves and others, and the way garments can provide us shelter, energy or energy. The exhibition route begins with mirrored, altered photos of the human physique: the psychological lure of incorrect notion of self that torments our age. Examples embody behavioural and dietary issues brought on by the exaggerated beliefs of magnificence promoted within the media, the typically obsessive want to make use of (more and more refined) filters to breed our picture in digital interplay and on social media, and the more and more frequent circumstances of Physique Dysmorphic Dysfunction (BDD): an extreme concern with bodily defects which can be in precise truth imperceptible and even non-existent, main victims to review themselves obsessively within the mirror.

One other deformation afflicting our creativeness, more and more pushed by photos in promoting, is the fragmentation of the physique, significantly the feminine physique, damaged up into components (face, stomach, arms, eyes, legs) to encourage us to devour a product that claims to resolve a particular downside, as if the physique have been a set of impartial mechanical elements. The creations of avant-garde stylists akin to Issey Miyake or Noir Kei Ninomiya and wigs made by artist and hair stylist Cyndia Harvey illustrate how we will play with the silhouette to create garments that come between the physique and different individuals’s eyes, making a type of safety with implausible proportions that query our requirements of ideally suited magnificence.

The exhibition continues with an enormous doll-house containing dolls and mannequins from the worlds of artwork and vogue. Elisa De Wyngaert confesses her attraction towards these objects, “significant carriers of various messages”. The part contains specimens of dolls that tailors took with them on their travels promoting garments to the élite throughout Europe as way back because the fourteenth century, in addition to a Sleeping Magnificence doll that snores, an irreverent creation of Belgian stylist Walter Van Beirendonck created particularly for the event. Dolls have represented a feminine alter ego over the centuries, not at all times with optimistic implications: dolls steadily seem in horror movies and books, probably due to their ambiguity as inanimate objects that stand in for residing beings.

Even mannequins, which can seem like impartial instruments for work, are in precise truth associated to the hysteria and distorted visions arising out of the best way we understand our our bodies. Mannequins first appeared in store home windows between 1880 and 1890, and have been designed to seduce passers-by, representing the best of magnificence at varied occasions of their historical past. Their faces are undefined and nearly at all times symbolize the usual options of white Caucasians of European origin, tall, skinny and steadily unrealistic.

The ultimate part within the exhibition leaves bodily area behind: avatars are the dolls (or mannequins) of the digital world, and have the identical affect on our imaginations, virtually dominating the psyche of their creators. On this last part, avatars seem in immersive works by Ed Atkins, Pierre Huyghe and Melik Ohanian deciphering the dissolution of physicality in a wholly digital actuality.

Antonella Galli

Exhibition ‘Mirror Mirror – Trend & the Psyche’
Curators Yoon Hee Lamot and Elisa De Wyngaert
​ Till 26/02/2023 at MoMu – Trend Museum, Antwerp & Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent ​
Images: Courtesy of MoMu Trend Museum Antwerp

Walter Van Beirendonck, ‘Mirror Ghosts Whisper Loud’, Spring-Summer time 2021. Miniature fashions realised and painted by Eli Effenberger-Menagerie Tokyo, miniature garments by Trois Quart Antwerp, credit videostill: Erik Peiren

Exhibition ‘Mirror Mirror – Trend and the Psyche’, MoMu Antwerp, picture Stany Dederen

Yasuyuki Ueno, Untitled, 2010, Crayon on paper, Courtesy of the artist and ABCD / ART BRUT Assortment Bruno Decharme

Trend doll’s costume, c. 1760s. Assortment of Trend Museum Bathtub. Bought with the help of the V&A Buy Grant Fund and the Nationwide Artwork Collections Fund, picture: Peter Stone

Kenneth Ize, lookbook photographed in Lagos, Nigeria, Spring-Summer time 2019, picture: Kene Nwatu

Paper Surgical procedure by Veronika Georgieva in collaboration with Stephen j Shanabrook, 2010

Dirk Van Saene, Autumn-Winter 2019-20, Artwork path & styling: Andrea, mannequin: Mathilde Timmerman, contributing artist: Stef Van Looveren, make-up: Jenneke Croubels, picture: Ronald Stoops

Viktor & Rolf, ‘Russian Doll’ assortment, Autumn-Winter 1999-00, picture: Bardo Fabiani

Simone Rocha, Spring-Summer time 2021, picture: Andrew Nuding

Walter Van Beirendonck, Spring-Summer time 2012, MoMu Assortment inv. X234, picture: Stany Dederen

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