Last week I went on holiday to Lodz, Poland for my anniversary. Whilst there I took the opportunity to visit museums and art galleries to experience some of the local culture and history. On Saturday my partner and I took a trip to Muzeum Sztuki 1 (MS1) it is currently undergoing building work so most of the building was closed however it was still worth the visit to see the current fashion exhibition: Prototypes: Fashion House Limanka, New Collection.
The Prototypes exhibition was based around a customer shopping experience, set up to replicate a European style fashion shop. It included multiple clothes rails, mannequins on raised platforms and even a changing room area. I enjoyed the interactivity which had been designed into the space; you could take garments off the rails, touch them and even try them on, a very different experience to a normal exhibition.
It was also digitally interactive with the creation and inclusion of a hashtag. Vinyl stickers of the hashtag on the changing room mirrors encouraged visitors to take images of themselves wearing the garments to share across social media. This digital element gave me the impression that the aim of the exhibit was to take the nature of fashion shopping and digital culture to combine and create a replica of the current physical world. The added feature of all the fabrics being recycled made a strong statement about the damaging consuming nature of today; by replicating it with the recycling twist it made me question consumer habits and the throwaway approach a large majority of people have.
Having no physical objects to take away when the exhibit was focussed around physical, material, textural items was in itself an interesting concept. I realised the only thing you could take were pictures which are digital replicas of the actual physical items, meaning the only response the audience could gain was a digital one.
It made me question if this comments on consumer culture and fashion to imply that consumerism, in particular, fashion consumerism, is driving society into gaining digital responses. Could the main reason for consumers purchasing clothes be, to wear them to photograph, for the purpose of uploading them to social media to gain a digital response in return? If this is the case it presents a detachment from the physical object and the tactile material further reinforcing the throwaway nature society seems to have gained since the 1950s.
What stood out to me was not the design of garments or fashion pieces but the context that had been created within the exhibition space.
Being able to try clothes on created this blissful consumer, fashion culture environment but not being allowed to buy the items meant it did not allow for actual consumerism. It took the ownership away from the consumer, it gave them everything they would want to experience in a retail environment but removed ownership and possession at the last opportunity.
Although it was a small space it made a big impact with the ideology the exhibit linked to. I feel it could have been more effective if the exhibition had been situated in a disused shop to enforce the ideal, blissful consumer experience the space first gives off. That way a strong shock impact would be given when people came to leave with the items and were unable to purchase them. For example, I would have liked to have seen till points where people would go to pay on their way out but were only informed at that point that the items were not for sale. This shock impact could be supported with the addition of accessories such as shopping baskets where visitors would then have to give them back.
Further to this, having cameras to record visitors reactions at the exit point would be very interesting to see.
In my opinion, I believe most of the visitor responses would be to say something along the lines of “oh don't worry then”. If this is a correct assumption it would highlight that consumers have not attained a strong attachment to the physical object, enforcing the throwaway detached nature that has developed within society.
However, it might be that some react in a stronger way, displaying an over attached response, expressed through anger or defensive behaviour. This to me could represent having a possessiveness, want or greed for items regardless of whether they are allowed to have ownership over them. In itself, this possessiveness could be a trend which is damaging to society through its resource use and environmental impact.
Before leaving for Poland I attended the Interview for the Web Design Intern Role. I am very happy to say that the interview was a success and I will be starting with the team, once I have finished the academic year, in May.
I am still looking for other experience I can gain this summer through volunteering as I believe some of the best opportunities and connections can be gained by giving your time to help others. Online I stumbled across a local event called the Derbyshire Wildside festival, where there are numerous volunteering roles, so I am going to look further into the details to see if this could be an opportunity that would suit my skills.
Since visiting Muzeum Sztuki 1 and writing this blog entry I have found more information about the Prototypes exhibition and its intentions: https://msl.org.pl/en/exhibitions/archive-exhibitions/prototypes-fashion-house-limanka-new-collection,2691.html
This article has strong links to the themes I have discussed including environmental impact and in particular the use of the exhibition to comment on trends within society. Written by Fashion House Limanka, it states the purposes of the exhibit as being a “...purposeful confrontation... with new interventions is an experiment. It will expand the toolkit of artistic means used by the Muzeum Sztuki to fulfill its principal role of a mediator between art and its audience.”
After visiting the exhibit and reading this purpose statement I believe the exhibition has definitely been successful in achieving its goal of creating a “purposeful confrontation” as it definitely confronted me with ideologies triggering a thoughtful response to how I as a consumer act towards, fashion, materials, and possession of items. This outcome was created without any additional materials to the garments, due to a language barrier, which highlights how by creating a strong environment ideologies can transcend both language and culture.