GABRIELLE CHANEL: FASHION MANIFESTO

BY DAVIDE ANDREATTA
THERE IS A PARALLEL UNIVERSE WHERE THE LATEST EXHIBITION AT V&A MUSEUM NEVER TOOK PLACE. IN FACT, CHANEL SAW FASHION AS ONE OF THE MOST ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF A WOMAN'S EVERYDAY LIFE, AND THIS BELIEF LED HER TO AN INTELLECTUAL STANCE CONTRARY TO THAT OF MANY OF HER CONTEMPORARIES WHO DONATED THEIR DESIGNS TO MUSEUMS. IF A “RIGHT” PLACE FOR FASHION EXISTS, SHE BELIEVED THAT IT SURELY WASN’T A MUSEUM WHERE GARMENTS WOULD BE ABSTRACTLY REFRAMED AND DEVITALIZED. EDMONDE CHARLES-ROUX, THE AUTHOR OF HER FIRST MAJOR MONOGRAPH, NOTED CHANEL'S PREFERENCE FOR ART IN ITS ORIGINAL LOCATIONS RATHER THAN DISPLAYED IN MUSEUMS: UNCANNILY CLOSE TO THE POSITIONS ON ART TYPICAL OF BATAILLE’S EARLY WRITING, SHE DEEMED USE VALUE BEING INSTEAD OF SYMBOLIC VALUE TO BE THE ACTUAL SOURCE OF ART’S DESIRABILITY. LUCKILY ENOUGH, DESPITE CHANEL'S RESERVATIONS, HER CLIENTS, FRIENDS, SUCCESSIVE CURATORS, AND THE HOUSE OF CHANEL ITSELF HAVE ACTIVELY COLLECTED AND PRESERVED HER CREATIVE LEGACY. EXPANDING UPON THE RECENT RETROSPECTIVE AT PARISIAN PALAIS GALLIERA (2020), THE LATEST FASHION SPECTACLE AT THE V&A, TITLED "GABRIELLE CHANEL: FASHION MANIFESTO," MARKS THE UK'S FIRST-EVER EXHIBITION SOLELY DEDICATED TO THE ICONIC COUTURIÈRE. BUILDING UPON THE FRENCH RETROSPECTIVE, THE CURATOR HAS ENRICHED THE NARRATIVE WITH 120 RARE ITEMS, METICULOUSLY CHRONICLING CHANEL'S JOURNEY FROM HER INAUGURAL MILLINERY BOUTIQUE ON RUE CAMBON IN 1910 TO HER GLOBAL ACCLAIM AND, ULTIMATELY, THE POSTHUMOUS PRESENTATION OF HER FINAL COLLECTION IN 1971. EXPLORING HOW HER CREATIVE OUTPUT INTERTWINED WITH HER BIOGRAPHY AND THE LIFESTYLE OF HER CURRENT PARTNER, TEN CORE THEMES, SUCH AS "TOWARDS A NEW ELEGANCE," "THE SUIT," AND "A TIMELESS ALLURE," WERE IDENTIFIED BY THE CURATORS TO ENCAPSULATE CHANEL'S INFLUENCE. THE V&A EDITION OF THE EXHIBITION, CURATED BY ORIOLE CULLEN, INTRODUCES A BRITISH COMPONENT, DELVING INTO CHANEL'S USE OF BRITISH TEXTILES, INCLUDING TWEED. FEATURING AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF NEW OBJECTS, INCLUDING 30 NEWLY DRESSED MANNEQUINS, THE EXHIBITION SHOWCASES CHANEL'S TIMELESS CREATIONS. THE METICULOUSLY DESIGNED DISPLAYS, CURATED BY STOREY STUDIO, EMPHASIZE ELEGANCE AND MINIMALISM, ECHOING CHANEL'S OWN AESTHETIC. A LARGE ILLUSTRATED TIMELINE PLACED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS THE EVOLUTION OF CHANEL'S DESIGNS OVER THE YEARS. THUS, GREETING THE VISITOR IS A SILK JERSEY BLOUSE WITH A SAILOR COLLAR, DATING BACK TO 1916, LUMINOUSLY PRESENTED IN THE DARK. CONVERSELY, THE FINAL EXHIBIT IS A SOMBER BLACK WORSTED SUIT AND HAT DESIGNED IN 1969. WHILE INDIVIDUALLY UNREMARKABLE, THESE GARMENTS EFFECTIVELY FRAME THE ENTIRE EXHIBITION: THE EARLY BLOUSE SIGNIFIES CHANEL'S BEGINNINGS AND HER EMBRACE OF UNADORNED SIMPLICITY, WHILE THE LATER SUIT EVOKES A SENSE OF URGENCY, REMINISCENT OF A PRIEST RUSHING TO A BEDSIDE. FURTHERMORE, THE FINAL PIECE EXHIBITED, BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN WORN BY CHANEL HERSELF, ENCAPSULATES THE HOUSE CODES AND ELUSIVE ALLURE: THE CLOSER ONE FEELS TO UNDERSTANDING CHANEL, THE MORE ELUSIVE SHE BECOMES. HER REVOLUTIONARY APPROACH TO FASHION, INCORPORATING MENSWEAR COMPONENTS AND UNCONVENTIONAL FABRICS LIKE KNITTED JERSEY, IS PROPERLY EMPHASIZED THROUGHOUT ONE’S VISIT. THE EXHIBITION BRINGS TO LIGHT HER USE OF SELF-FABRIC IN DECORATION, SHOWCASING GEOMETRIC PATTERNS, APPLIQUÉ BOW MOTIFS, AND INTRICATE EMBROIDERY. DESPITE HER OCCASIONAL USE OF THREAD, SEQUINS, AND BEADS, CHANEL ADHERED TO MODERNISM'S PRINCIPLE OF TRUTH TO MATERIALS. THE INCLUSION OF FILM FOOTAGE ADDS A DYNAMIC ELEMENT TO THE EXHIBITION, PROVIDING A SENSE OF MOVEMENT THROUGH FASHION SHOWS, CHANEL'S ATELIER, AND HOLLYWOOD FILMS SHE COSTUMED IN THE 1930S. AMIDST THE ELEGANCE AND BEAUTY, THE EXHIBITION ADDRESSES A CHALLENGING ASPECT OF CHANEL'S HISTORY – HER COLLABORATION WITH THE NAZI REGIME DURING WORLD WAR II. DOCUMENTS FROM THE PARIS ARCHIVES CORROBORATE CHANEL'S WARTIME ACTIONS, INCLUDING KEEPING HER PERFUME BUSINESS OPEN AND HER ASSOCIATION WITH A NAZI LOVER. THE TRANSPARENT APPROACH TAKEN BY THE MUSEUM IS A WELCOMED ONE, PRESENTING FACTS AND DOCUMENTS WHILE ACKNOWLEDGING RECENT RESEARCH SUGGESTING CHANEL'S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE RESISTANCE. THERE’S NO LINEAR LEGACY AND THE COMPLEXITIES OF A LEGENDARY BIOGRAPHY CANNOT BE FLATTENED IN A SERIOUS RETROSPECTIVE APPROACH. THE EXHIBITION BUILDS TO A CRESCENDO, SHOWCASING CHANEL'S TRIUMPHANT RETURN IN 1954 WITH A ROOM FILLED WITH CANDY-COLORED SUITS, HANDBAGS, AND EVENING WEAR. THE GRAND FINALE PRESENTS A MIRRORED STAIRCASE ADORNED WITH MANNEQUINS IN MONOCHROME EVENING DRESSES, PROVIDING A DAZZLING VISUAL SPECTACLE. CULLEN HOPES THE EXHIBITION BROADENS PERCEPTIONS OF CHANEL'S RANGE, SHOWCASING PLAYFUL AND VIBRANT ELEMENTS OFTEN OVERSHADOWED BY HER REPUTATION FOR SOPHISTICATED MINIMALISM. WHILE HER CONTRIBUTIONS TO FASHION ARE UNDENIABLE, THE EXHIBITION SUGGESTS THAT HER INNOVATIONS ARE SOMETIMES OVERSTATED, HIGHLIGHTING PAUL POIRET AS THE FIRST TO ADVOCATE FOR ABANDONING CORSETS. CHANEL'S TRUE GENIUS, IT CONTENDS, LIES IN HER UNPARALLELED SALESMANSHIP, EXEMPLIFIED BY THE ICONIC LAUNCH OF CHANEL NO. 5 IN 1921. THE FINAL PASSAGE OF THE EXHIBITION, THE EXIT THROUGH A MIRRORED STAIRCASE, MIMICS THIS SELFPROMOTIONAL DYNAMIC OF THE FRENCH DESIGNER, WITH VISITORS LIKELY ENGAGING IN SPONTANEOUS PHOTOSHOOTS, MIRRORING CHANEL'S MASTERY IN PROMOTING HER IMAGE.








Joanna Woś - Untitled, 2022 - Oil on linen - 90 × 140 × 3 cm
Courtesy the artist and Croy Nielsen, Vienna - Photo by kunst-dokumentation.com








LETTER FROM EDITOR

A VIEW FOR OUR FUTURE

THIS ISSUE IS A BRIDGE, AN ADHESIVE THAT WITH ITS HEART JOINS ITS PAST, AND WITH ITS HANDS JOINS ITS FUTURE. THIS LETTER IS INSTEAD A MESSAGE TO ALL OF YOU. I AM ASKING YOU TO SEEK DAY AFTER DAY A NEW AND FANTASTIC NOURISHMENT, A NEW WAY OF VIEWING WHAT SURROUNDS US IN THESE TIMES OF DARKNESS. I AM ASKING YOU TO CONTINUE TO PLAY, I AM ASKING YOU TO SEEK IRONY AND FIND HAPPINESS BECAUSE THESE ARE THE ONLY EMOTIONS THAT CAN DISPEL THE FEAR AND HELP US TO IMAGINE A BETTER FUTURE. PLAYING MEANS READING AND PARTICIPATING IN EVERYTHING THAT INVOLVES YOU, IT MEANS LISTENING TO STORIES, ESPECIALLY THOSE OF OTHERS. SEEKING MEANS FEELING YOUR INSTINCT, THE ONE YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO PUSH BEYOND, TO OFFER A DIFFERENT VISION FROM A STATIC ONE, AND ATTEMPT TO ALWAYS AND CONTINUALLY TAKE RISKS. AND ALWAYS SEEK OPTIMISM, WHICH IS WHAT HELPS US TO LOOK BEYOND AND CONTINUE TO IMPROVE THIS MOMENT IN TIME WE ARE NOW LIVING. THIS MEANS ALWAYS SHIFTING ONE'S GAZE ONTO THE IMAGINATION. THE FUTURE IS A CONSTRUCTION THAT YOU CANNOT IMPROVISE BY YOURSELF. MOST PEOPLE LIVE BY INERTIA, AND IN ORDER TO SENSITIZE PEOPLE YOU NEED ACTIONS THAT ARE HOTLY DEBATED. THERE IS A NEED TO CONVERSE AND COMMUNICATE MORE THAN OTHERS SO THAT YOU'LL BE LISTENED TO, AND SO THAT PEOPLE CAN START TO THINK, REFLECT. WE CAN NO LONGER ESCAPE REALITY, AND INDIVIDUAL SURVIVAL CANNOT EXIST; INSTEAD, THERE IS A NEED FOR COMMON DESIRE. HAPPINESS COMES FROM TAKING CARE OF THIS WORLD AND OF THE PEOPLE WHO INHABIT IT. ALL OF US MUST UNDERSTAND JUST HOW FRAGILE AND COMPLEX THE PERIOD WE ARE LIVING IN IS, AND WHAT LIES AHEAD. EVERY MAJOR RADICAL CHANGE WILL HAPPEN TO OUR SPECIES AND WE HOPE FOR THE BEST. THE LIFE WE ARE LIVING NEEDS THOUGHT BECAUSE WHAT WE HAVE HAD UNTIL NOW IS NO LONGER SUFFICIENT; WE WANT MORE AS WELL. OUR CLAIM IS THAT WE NEED MORE THAN JUST MONEY. AFTER THE PANDEMIC THERE WAS A WAR, NOW THERE IS ANOTHER ONE, AND OUR POINTS OF REFERENCE KEEP CHANGING CONSTANTLY AND SPEEDILY. TODAY WE HAVE THE KEYS TO UNDERSTAND AND TRULY INTERPRET THE NEW SEASONS. WE HAVE THE CULTURAL AND PERSONAL TRAITS WE NEED TO BE THE REAL PROTAGONISTS OF THIS NEW TIME. WE SEEK THE OPPORTUNITY TO PROTEST AND DREAM, DREAM AND PROTEST, UNTIL THERE WILL BE MORE STARDUST FOR US ALL.


ALESSIA FAGIOLI GALEONE














PACIFIC PALISADES. THOMAS MANN HOUSE

BY ALESSANDRO D’OTTAVI
APRIL 18, 1938, THOMAS MANN WROTE IN HIS DIARY: “WARM SUMMER DAY, WEARING LIGHT SUIT, ON AN ARCHITECTURAL TOUR WITH RICHARD NEUTRA AND HIS WIFE…”MANN HAD JUST ARRIVED IN LOS ANGELES WITH HIS WIFE AND THEIR DAUGHTER ERIKA, A VISIT THAT WAS PART OF A TOUR OF TALKS TITLED “THE COMING VICTORY OF DEMOCRACY” THAT HAD BEEN ORGANIZED BY HIS PUBLISHER. OVER THE COURSE OF THE TOUR, THE MANNS DECIDED TO SPEND A FEW DAYS IN LOS ANGELES, AND IT WAS PRECISELY IN THAT CIRCUMSTANCE THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME MANN MET THE FAMOUS MODERNIST ARCHITECT IN THE CITY THAT WOULD SOON BECOME HIS NEW RESIDENCE. THE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL CLIMATE IN GERMANY HAD BECOME UNBEARABLE AS EARLY AS 1933, THE YEAR OF MANN’S LAST PUBLIC APPEARANCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MUNICH. ON THAT OCCASION MANN CRITICIZED THE LINKS BETWEEN NAZISM AND GERMAN ART, REFERRING IN PARTICULAR TO WAGNER WHOM HE WAS A GREAT FAN OF, AND UPSETTING THE NATIONALISTS WHO WERE PRESENT IN THE ROOM, AND NOT ONLY THEM. MANN SOON UNDERSTOOD THAT GERMANY HAD BECOME A PLACE THAT WAS NOT FOR THE FREE THINKER LIKE HIM, WHEREUPON HE MOVED TO KÜSNACHT, NEAR ZURICH, IN SWITZERLAND.THE FIRST YEARS OF VOLUNTARY EXILE WERE TOUGH ONES FOR THE GERMAN WRITER. YEARS OF TORMENT, DOUBTS, AND ENDLESS NIGHT-TIME REFLECTIONS THAT CONVINCED HIM TO LEAVE A EUROPE THAT WAS BEING TORN APART BY THE WINDS OF NAZISM. AFTER THREE SEMESTERS OF TEACHING AT PRINCETON, THOMAS MANN, TIRED OF THE SLEEPY TOWN IN NEW JERSEY AND PROBABLY THINKING ABOUT THAT WALK HE HAD TAKEN WITH RICHARD NEUTRA IN CALIFORNIA, DECIDED TO SETTLE PERMANENTLY ON THE WEST COAST. THE FIRST PLACE WHERE THE WRITER AND HIS FAMILY LIVED, 740 DI AMALFI DRIVE IN BRENTWOOD, WAS RATHER MODEST. HOWEVER, THE NEW NEIGHBORHOOD WAS FILLED WITH STIMULI.


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CLEAR IDEAS, FEET ON THE GROUND, AND EYES ON THE FUTURE

BY FULVIO RAVAGNANI
A RESIDENCE FOR ARTISTS, AN INDEPENDENT EXHIBITION AREA, AND A COLLECTION OF OVER FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY CONTEMPORARY ARTWORKS, ALL OF WHICH INSIDE A HISTORICAL PALAZZO IN THE HEART OF BRESCIA. THIS IS EDOARDO MONTI’S BY NOW FAMOUS BRAINCHILD. HE TOLD ME MORE ABOUT HIS JOURNEY AND THE DESIRES THAT CONTINUE TO MOTIVATE HIM. WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE A BERGAMASCO WHO LIVES IN BRESCIA BUT STUDIED IN LONDON AND WORKS IN NEW YORK? I AM VERY FOND OF BERGAMO, MY MOTHER, LUISA SCARONI, IS A BRESCIANA, AND I LIVED THERE UNTIL I FINISHED SECONDARY SCHOOL (A ‘LICEO CLASSICO’), BUT THEN I TOOK OFF FOR LONDON. IT WAS A HARD YEAR, BECAUSE OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, AND BECAUSE I WAS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO WITH MY LIFE. A FOUNDATION COURSE AT MIDDLESEX UNIVERSITY GAVE ME A CHANCE TO TRY OUT LOTS OF THINGS. IT CHANGED MY LIFE. THEN I HAD AN INTERNSHIP AT STELLA MCCARTNEY, WHERE I REMAINED FOR EIGHT YEARS: THREE IN LONDON, AND FIVE IN NEW YORK. IT WAS THE FIRST AND ONLY JOB OF MY LIFE BEFORE STARTING TO WORK ON MY PROJECT. I WAS DOING COMMUNICATIONS AND PR, WHICH TAUGHT ME RIGOR AND DISCIPLINE. IT WAS AN UNREPEATABLE AND FORMATIVE OPPORTUNITY THAT REPAID ME FOR ALL MY STRUGGLES IN THE FASHION WORLD.


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A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE IN CONVERSATION WITH SOPHIA AL-MARIA

BY FABRIZIO MERIS
“OFTEN I REALIZE THAT OUR WORLD HAS A STRANGE EGO-SYSTEM, IN WHICH, INSTEAD OF SIMPLY CARRYING ON WITH THEIR WORK, AN ARTIST WELCOMES VISITORS IN THEIR STUDIO, IS GIVEN A BRIEF, AND CONSEQUENTLY RESPONDS TO THAT STIMULUS.” THAT IS HOW MY CONVERSATION WITH SOPHIA AL-MARIA (BORN IN 1983) BEGINS: AN ARTIST, WRITER, AND DIRECTOR BORN IN THE UNITED STATES BUT WHO HAS MADE QATAR HER HOME. SHE HAS JUST ARRIVED IN LONDON FROM PARIS, WHERE HER VIDEO INSTALLATION “GRAVITY & GRACE” SERVED AS THE BACKDROP FOR MIU MIU’S S/S 2024 FASHION SHOW DURING PARIS FASHION WEEK. IT’S A SPECIAL PROJECT FOR THE ITALIAN FASHION HOUSE IN WHICH THE ARTIST TELLS A MULTIDIMENSIONAL TALE WHERE ATMOSPHERIC ELEMENTS, CLASSICAL COLUMNS, AND A JAPANESE KATANA ARE MIXED TOGETHER, REVEALING THIS INTELLECTUAL’S ATTRACTION FOR SURREALISM, SOMEONE WHO IS ALREADY FAMOUS FOR HAVING COINED THE TERM “GULF FUTURISM” AND FOR HAVING EXPLORED ALMOST DYSTOPIAN AND APOCALYPTIC ASPECTS OF CONSUMERISM. THE FIRST TIME I SAW YOUR WORK IN PERSON WAS DURING THE 2022 VENICE BIENNALE. IN THAT INSTANCE, YOU EXHIBITED THE VIDEO “TIGER STRIKE RED,” CHOSEN BY CURATOR CECILIA ALEMANI. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR METHOD AND THE THEMES YOU ADDRESS? I WAS INVITED TO PRESENT MY WORK WITHIN THE PAVILION OF APPLIED ARTS, A SPECIAL PROJECT IN COLLABORATION WITH THE VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM IN LONDON; IT’S AN INSTITUTION THAT’S PROBLEMATIC IN MANY WAYS, BUT IT’S ALSO STEEPED IN HISTORY. ONE OF THE MAIN THEMES IN MY WORK IS PLAYING WITH GENRES AND NARRATIVES, AND THEN PLACING THEM IN UNEXPECTED CONTEXTS. I WANTED TO LOWER THE INSTITUTION’S TONE BECAUSE I COULDN’T IMAGINE DOING SOMETHING SERIOUS AT THE V&A; IT HAD TO BE A BIT CHILDISH AND SILLY. SO I THOUGHT OF THE AESTHETICS OF “SCOOBY-DOO” OR “BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER.” THEN, AS I CONTINUED MY RESEARCH, I DISCOVERED THAT A DANCER HAD PERFORMED THERE, A DANCER OF INDIAN ORIGIN WHOSE IDENTITY HAD SOMEHOW BEEN “ERASED.” EVEN IN THE V&A’S VISITORS GUIDE, HIS NAME WAS NOT MENTIONED; HE WAS SIMPLY DESCRIBED AS AN “INDIAN DANCER.” HIS NAME WAS ACTUALLY RAM GOPAL, A TRUE QUEER ICON TO ME, WHO POPULARIZED MANY TRADITIONAL ASIAN DANCES IN EUROPE DURING AND AFTER WORLD WAR II. THERE ARE SO MANY LAYERS OF “CANCELLATION” INSIDE THAT MUSEUM...


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RESOUNDING ARCHITECTURE: OSCAR NIEMEYER IN ITALY

BY VALENTINA BARTALESI
THERE IS ONE NOUN THAT RECURS IN A CYCLICAL, URGENT, AND AT TIMES OBSESSIVE MANNER IN THE WRITINGS OF OSCAR NIEMEYER. WHETHER AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL MEMORIES, OBSERVATIONS QUICKLY ANNOTATED WITH THE HELP OF A DRAWING, OR CONTRIBUTIONS DRAFTED BY OTHERS, ONE ALMOST INEVITABLY DISCOVERS A PRESENCE THAT DECISIVELY RUNS THROUGH THE WORK—AND, MORE DEEPLY, THE THINKING—OF THE BRAZILIAN ARCHITECT: THAT NOUN IS CURVE. THE NOUN “CURVE,” FROM THE LATIN CURVUS AND FROM THE MIDDLE ENGLISH “CURVED,” DATES TO THE MODERN AGE AND IDENTIFIES A BODY THAT IS BENT: IT IS AN ELEMENT THAT LINGERS IN ENDLESS ACROBATICS AND CONTORSIONS AND EXHIBITS ITSELF TO BE FLEXED. IN A THEME THAT WAS PARTICULARLY DEAR TO NIEMEYER AS WELL AS TO MOST ARCHITECTS, IN THE VERY FIRST INSTANCE THE CURVE REPRESENTS A COMPONENT OF THE LANDSCAPE, AS WELL AS A TOOL CHERISHED BY ILLUSTRIOUS ARTISTIC TRADITIONS. IT IS THE DIZZYING LINE DESCRIBED BY THE TROPICAL VEGETATION OF SÃO CONRADO, THE SPIRAL THAT CLIMBS UP ALONG A PROMONTORY OF GUANABARA BAY, THE HORIZON THAT SEEMS TO ARCH SLIGHTLY WHEN CONTEMPLATED FROM GREAT DISTANCES. A FIGURE, IN OTHER WORDS, THAT JOINS WITHIN ITSELF A DECALOGUE OF GEOMETRIES AS CONCRETE AS THEY ARE IMAGINARY, HAVING PRECISE GEOGRAPHICAL AND CHRONOLOGICAL COORDINATES. OSCAR NIEMEYER WAS BORN IN RIO DE JANEIRO IN DECEMBER 1907.


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MUZEUM SUSCH: ART IS NOT REST

BY MARTINE TRENT
CRADLED IN THE ENGADINE, ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST PICTURESQUE VALLEYS, SUSCH SITS BETWEEN ST. MORITZ AND DAVOS. HERE WE FIND ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING AND EVOCATIVE SPACES FOR ART THAT HAS BEEN BUILT IN RECENT YEARS: MUZEUM SUSCH. THANKS TO THE BRAINCHILD OF COLLECTOR AND PHILANTHROPIST GRAŻYNA KULCZYK, MUZEUM SUSCH IS ONE OF SWITZERLAND’S MOST SPECIAL HIDDEN GEMS FOR THE EXPLORATION OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ARTWORKS AND THE SPACES IN WHICH THEY ARE HOUSED. WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO CONVERSE WITH BOTH GRAZYNA KULCZYK, THE FOUNDER OF THE MUSEUM, AS WELL AS WITH MATYLDA TASZYCKA, THE CURATOR OF THE EXHIBITION “ART IS NOT REST,” CURRENTLY ON VIEW AT MUZEUM SUSCH UNTIL THE END OF NOVEMBER 2023. DEAR GRAZYNA AND MATYLDA, I WOULD LIKE TO FOCUS FIRST ON SOME QUESTIONS FOR MATYLDA CONCERNING THE WANDA CZEŁKOWSKA EXHIBITION, “ART IS NOT REST.” FIRST OF ALL, CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE US SOME BACKGROUND TO THE CURATORIAL PROCESS YOU FOLLOWED FOR THIS EXHIBITION AND YOUR STUDY ON WANDA CZEŁKOWSKA PRACTICE? IS THERE SOMETHING THAT PARTICULARLY ATTRACTED YOU ABOUT HER WORKS? M: WHEN I RECEIVED THE INVITATION FROM MUSEUM SUSCH, I REALIZED THAT MY ROLE WOULD BE TO TRANSLATE WANDA CZEŁKOWSKA’S COMPLEX WORK FOR AN AUDIENCE THAT WAS NOT NECESSARILY FAMILIAR WITH IT, NOR WITH THE SPECIFIC CONTEXT IN WHICH IT WAS CREATED. HOWEVER, I WANTED TO AVOID THE EASY, AND IN MY OPINION MISTAKEN, TRAP OF A NARRATIVE BUILT AROUND THE FIGURE OF A BEAUTIFUL, FORGOTTEN WOMEN ARTIST, FINALLY REDISCOVERED BY INTERNATIONAL CURATORS AND INSTITUTIONS. THE EXHIBITION WAS CONCEIVED IN PARALLEL WITH THE BOOK WE DEVOTED TO THE ARTIST, TO OFFER AN IN-DEPTH STUDY OF HER WORK. I TOOK A GREAT DEAL OF INTEREST IN HER WRITINGS AND IN THE VERY FEW INTERVIEWS SHE GAVE DURING HER LIFETIME, AND I REALIZED THAT SHE DID NOT WANT TO BE SEEN AS A VICTIM OF AN UNFAIR AND PATRIARCHAL ART WORLD. ON THE CONTRARY, SHE ASSERTED HER AMBITION AND HER INDIVIDUALISM. THIS IS WHAT I WANTED TO DEMONSTRATE THROUGH MY EXHIBITION, BY PLACING PARTICULAR EMPHASIS ON HER MOST MONUMENTAL WORKS. IT WAS ALSO A WAY FOR ME TO ENGAGE WITH THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE MUSEUM, ITS INCREDIBLE SURROUNDINGS AND THE SITE-SPECIFIC WORKS DISPLAYED IN ITS GALLERIES.


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THE ELEGANCE OF PERFECTION, INTERVIEW WITH ANNE-MARIE BERETTA

BY RICCARDO CONTI
THERE IS A BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPH FROM 1976 THAT SHOWS A NUMBER OF RATHER EXCEPTIONAL NAMES FROM FRENCH AND, THEREFORE, WORLD FASHION. IF YOU LOOK AT THEM FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, YOU WILL SEE THIERRY MUGLER, CLAUDE MONTANA, JEAN-CLAUDE DE LUCA, JEAN-CHARLES DE CASTELBAJAC, THEN PRESIDENT OF SHISEIDO YOSHIO OHNO, THE FASHION EDITOR MELKA TRÉANTON, THE FASHION DESIGNER DAN BÉRANGER, AND THE SUPER CONSULTANT JEAN-JACQUES PICART. AT THE CENTER OF THIS GROUP IS A TINY, BRIGHT FIGURE WEARING A WHITE OUTFIT AND SUEDE SHOES AS SHE SMILES AT THE CAMERA LENS AND SEEMS TO BE THE REAL FOCUS OF THE SHOT; HER NAME IS ANNE-MARIE BERETTA. BACK THEN THE THIRTY-NINE-YEAR-OLD FRENCH FASHION DESIGNER OF ITALIAN ORIGIN WAS ONE OF THE PEOPLE MOST RESPONSIBLE FOR THE REAL CHANGES IN THE WAY WE IMAGINED A WOMAN'S WAY OF DRESSING, THE PRÊT-À-PORTER TO BE WORN EVERY DAY THAT WOULD GUARANTEE THAT RARE BALANCE BETWEEN PRACTICALITY AND AUTHENTIC ELEGANCE. AND YET THE 'REVOLUTIONS' OF MADAME BERETTA TOOK PLACE WITHOUT CLAMOR OR EXCESS, DEVOID OF THE KIND OF STURM UND DRANG OR NARCISSISTIC NARRATIVES THAT THE OTHER IMPORTANT FIGURES IN THAT BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO SHARED. AFTER SHE ARRIVED IN PARIS IN 1951, THE COUTURIERS ROGER BAUER AND JACQUES GRIFFE ENCOURAGED HER TO ENTER THE WORLD OF FASHION BY DESIGNING THEATER COSTUMES WITH ANTONIO CASTILLO. IT WAS JUST THE BEGINNING OF A VERY LONG CAREER FILLED WITH CRUCIAL CONSULTING THAT REWROTE THE LEXICON OF DRESSING AND SILENTLY BUT RADICALLY GAVE THE FEMALE OUTFIT, FROM THE 1970S TO THE 1980S, THAT SCULPTURAL IMAGE OF MODERNITY THAT CONTINUES TO THIS DAY, NOT ONLY AS THE INSPIRATION FOR THE CREATIVE DIRECTORS OF CONTEMPORARY BRANDS, BUT ALSO IN THE FORMS DESIGNED BY MADAME BERETTA THAT ARE STILL BEING PRODUCED. YES, BECAUSE AFTER FOUNDING HER LABEL IN 1974, THE FASHION DESIGNER SIMPLY DESIGNED THE COAT MOST SOLD IN THE WORLD, FOR MAX MARA IN 1981, REVOLUTIONIZED THE RAINCOAT, AND MADE LEATHER CLOTHES 'DEMOCRATIC.' IF TODAY YOUNG FASHION SCHOOL STUDENTS OR JUST FASHIONISTAS FIND IT 'COOL' TO CROSS THE CITY WEARING OVERSIZE COATS WITH A GEOMETRIC CUT, UNWITTINGLY, THEY OWE IT ALL TO ANNE-MARIE BERETTA.


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UNIMAGINABLE YET POSSIBLE. *A PRIVATE CONVERSATION

RSATION WITH JOANNA WOŚ. KIND, CUTTING, FEMALE, MALE, ETHEREAL, EROTIC. IN CELESTIAL WORKS SHE DESCRIBES BRUTALITY. SHE MOVES BETWEEN VIOLENT REPRESENTATION AND INDISSOLUBLE LIGHTNESS. HER FLUID AND ELEGANT LINE REPRESENTS BODIES THAT INHABIT THE SPACE OF A PAIN THAT SEEMS TO DEFINE SPECIFIC ROLES IN A GAME BETWEEN VICTIM AND PREDATOR.

STELLAPUBLICATION
WE TALKED FOR OVER AN HOUR AND A HALF AND IN OUR PLEASANT CONVERSATION I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO START FROM A FEELING. HOW IMPORTANT WAS THE URGENCY TO BEGIN FOR YOU?

JOANNA WOŚ
MAKING ART IS UNQUESTIONABLY A VERY URGENT MATTER FOR ME. IT WAS THE NEED TO FIND MYSELF, TO WORK WITH MY FEELINGS, ELABORATING THINGS THAT HAPPENED TO ME IN THE PAST AS WELL AS ELABORATING EMOTIONS AND TRYING TO ACHIEVE AN INTERPRETATION, IN A CERTAIN SENSE. AT FIRST I PAINTED CONVULSIVELY AND UNCEASINGLY, I WAS HYPERPRODUCTIVE, I HAD A LOT OF THINGS INSIDE ME THAT I NEEDED TO EXPRESS. NOW IT’S DIFFERENT. I’VE MATURED A PROCESS THAT UP TO NOW IS CERTAINLY BETTER ORGANIZED. IT WAS AS IF I HAD TO SHAPE MY OWN WORLD, THROUGH MY MEMORY AND MY IMAGINATION. FIND SPECIFIC MOMENTS OVER THE COURSE OF MY LIFE AND ELABORATE THEM VISUALLY, MAKING THEM A PART OF MY PRACTICE.


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Innovative start up registered and certified by The Chamber of Commerce of Milan Monza Brianza Lodi
© 2023 STELLA Green Publication. All rights reserved. Italica R.O.C. (Register of Operations in the Communication Field) N. 38615
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© 2022 Stella Publication  
Innovative start up registered and certified by The Chamber of Commerce of Milan Monza Brianza Lodi


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