Dress Codes at ICP

Miyako Ishiuchi, mother's #49, 2002, Gelatin Silver Print

Today I visited the Third ICP Triennial, "Dress Codes," which is dedicated to the interaction between fashion and art. Culminating the ICP's year of fashion, the outstanding exhibition opens tomorrow and will be on view through January 17.

Some of my favorite artists were included in the exhibition, including Tanya Marcuse and Miyako Ishiuchi, whose moving photographs of her deceased mother's clothes and accroutments were originally included in the Venice Biennale's Japanese pavilion in 2005. Also included is the work of the Brooklyn-based video artist Kalup Linzy (whose humorous work was first shown at Taxter and Spengemann), and the Turkish New York–based artist Pinar Yolacan, as well as a number of artists, whose work I was not familiar with, such as the German-based artist Thorsten Brinkmann, whose extravagant self-fashioning is reminiscent of Leigh Bowery's alterations of the body.

Fashion Projects' contributor Tamsen Schwartzman was also in attendance. She has a long-lasting interest in photography and its relation to fashion, and has written an extensive review for the Museum at FIT, which she has kindly agreed to let us republish:

"Dress Codes opens tomorrow.The third ICP triennial of photography and video and the last exhibition installment in their Year of Fashion explores fashion as a celebration of individuality, personal identity, and self-expression, and as cultural, religious, social, and political statements. Previous exhibitions, if you missed them, included Avedon Fashion 1944–2000, Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Condé Nast Years 1923–1937, and This Is Not a Fashion Photograph: Selections from the ICP Collection.

Most survey exhibitions of art or photography are a mixed bag. And Dress Codes is no different. However, there is enough really engaging, thoughtful work to make this a necessary visit for the fashion and photography enthusiast.

Jacqueline Hassink BMW Car Girls, 2004 © Jacqueline Hassink Courtesy Amador Gallery, New York

In my opinion, they put some of the strongest work on the top level. There you'll find Jacqueline Hassink's video "BMW Car Girls" which explores how beautiful models are used at car shows to add human seduction to the man's buying experience. The models, and the way they are dressed, function as a branding device and transfer glamour and sex to the car. The video shows how the men shift their attention back and forth from the cars to the girls and back. A fascinating and captivating video.

Mickalene Thomas Portrait of Qusuquzah, 2008 © Mickalene Thomas Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York

Right next to "BMW Car Girls" are three photographs by Brooklyn artist Mickalene Thomas. Her staged photographs celebrate and critique archetypes of black womanhood. Powerful, enticing, sexy, and confrontational, I thought it was some of the best work in the show. The photographs reference the pop aesthetic of Blaxploitation films, Seydou Keïta’s lushly patterned portraits, and Matisse's odalisques. I couldn't help but think of the recent Yinka Shonibare exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum when looking at "Le Leçon d'amour" 2008 and how they share the persistence of the colonial viewpoint. The photos also brought to mind an article I read this morning about the upcoming Tate Modern exhibition Pop Life: Art in a Material World that will include the controversial work of Rob Pruitt and Jack Early.

Another highlight of the exhibition is Tanya Marcuse’s exquisite platinum prints from her "Undergarments and Armour" series. These corsets, breastplates, and bustles from museum costume collections (including ours!) reflect Tanya's historical awareness of how the body has been sculpted and modified through fashion. They also expose dualities of masculine/feminine, hard/soft, hidden/revealed, aggression/vulnerability.

Stan Douglas Hastings Park, 16 July 1955, 2008 © Stan Douglas Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner Gallery, New York

Sartorial signs are addressed in the works of Alice O'Malley, Stan Douglas, and Cindy Sherman. Alice O’Malley's portraits of downtown New York performance artists and musicians serve to address how clothing and makeup are used to articulate outsider identity. Stan Douglas' "Hastings Park, 16 July 1955" is a large-scale photograph depicting the working class at leisure at a Vancouver horse track in 1955. He utilizes extraordinary detailed period dress that contains subtle indicators of working-class status.

Plase vist the Museum at FIT to read the rest of the review