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Thomas Demand on photographing Azzedine Alaïa’s archive

Thomas Demand on photographing Azzedine Alaïa’s archive

Thomas Demand on photographing Azzedine Alaïa’s archive



Having beforehand thought of architects together with Hans Hollein and John Lautner, Thomas Demand now turns to the work of the late designer Azzedine Alaïa for “Mannequin Research,” on view at Matthew Marks Gallery in Los Angeles by means of April 9, 2022. The exhibition consists of 4 massive images taken in Alaïa’s archive: patterns utilized by the French couturier and his studio to make and remake his clothes identified for his or her tight, exacting kinds. Our dialog spanned questions of craft, translation, and fashions each bodily and conceptual. We spoke over sandwiches in Santa Monica.

AFTER AZZEDINE ALAÏA PASSED AWAY in 2017, his basis invited me to come back and {photograph} his desk. That wasn’t actually for me. I assumed I wouldn’t do it justice, as I couldn’t add something to what was there already. However I noticed these patterns hanging round. I had been taking a look at patterns of clothes for a very long time, in addition to clothes workshops the place they’ve these patterns hanging, particularly in leather-based fabrication. They remind me of Duchamp’s rulers in Three Customary Stoppages, the unintentional curve. So these curving patterns in Alaïa’s workshop perform as a type of ruler for his or her clothes. It’s very summary. You don’t see a T-shirt there or a gown or jacket, however you see the weather.

A particular factor with Alaïa was that he made all his patterns himself. He would make a sample with a mannequin and lower them after which a member of his workshop would translate them to totally different sizes. However the first sample of the jacket he would do himself, and he would assemble the primary objects of clothes. It will at all times be very muted, black, perhaps pink or with a bit of little bit of sample, however finally it wouldn’t be about patterns or coloration, it will at all times be about materials and the way a chunk of clothes will be constructed. In that sense it’s very architectural. The potential of this clothes was very intriguing to me.

I keep in mind after I noticed his designs in outlets, they’d be onerous to get and really costly, however you’ll by no means have the sensation of market-driven calculation. You possibly can inform that they had been objects handmade in Paris, coming from his workshop. It will be a tremendous factor, even for somebody who isn’t an professional in trend.

The method of translation is a crucial factor for me, as is the aspect of refinement. That’s, {that a} work isn’t derived from an arbitrary concept, one following the following, however that it comes from an extended means of mastership: on this case why a selected bow is the place it’s, why the seam sits right here and never over there, the place all people else may put it. It’s invention and a really previous model of expertise. However ultimately, you can not make a single gown from my images. It falls fully again into an summary picture of one thing you assume you perceive.

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What my images of interiors all have in frequent is a sure presence. The sensation that somebody has simply left the room, or that someone will come again across the nook in a second. Like whenever you go in a store and there’s no person there, you assume, “I may take every thing I need.” There’s a type of fragility to the second. On the core of that is the commentary that when you’ve got {a photograph} of any area, and you’ve got two individuals within the {photograph}, it’s all about these two individuals within the area. When you have {a photograph} of the identical area with out the individuals, it’s about you occupying the area, your thoughts, your mind, you your self imagining what it’s prefer to be there.

With these newer images, there’s the presence of Alaïa. He’s very current within the cutouts and the drawings and each mark on the objects. However on the identical time, the intention of those shapes is absent. I wouldn’t say you possibly can see an arm in it or one thing. However you possibly can see a little bit of progress, a purposefulness. You possibly can inform that these aren’t shapes to construct a home. They’re not shapes to change into a chair. I believe individuals instantly perceive that this isn’t the technical drawing of an architect, due to its fluidity. There’s a way that every thing is a sample for one thing greater to come back.

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