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dates : 22/01/09 - 17/05/09

opening times:

daily 10.00 to 17.45

open until 22.00 on 24th April

price: £6 / £5 / £4

address:

The Design Museum

28 Shad Thames

London SE1 2YD

tel: +44 (0)20 7403 6933

link: www.designmuseum.org

map: http://www.multimap.com

 

it was a real delight and an immense privilege to see this exhibition. Hussein Chalayan is not only a fashion designer, but an artist able to use media such as video, sound and interactive technologies to develop his field of investigation. And he operates these translations with puzzling ease and elegance.

The exhibition was designed by Zoe Smith and Graeme Williamson of Block Architecture, who also designed Hussein’s first shop in Japan. For this exhibition, pieces have been selected and carefully displayed with minimum disruption form the work. White walls, blinds retracted so far as to be just able to take a glance at the next piece, and white led signs inlaid in the wall giving the title of each piece. Like for any art piece titles are very significant and here are some examples: Panoramics; Before minus now; Ambimorphous;  Geotropics; Place to passage; Manifest destiny; Temporal meditations; Genometrics; Absent Presence.

Each piece is a research project in itself, one tackling the notion of travel (Place to Passage), while the next is about identity, or protection (Repose), or time (give hundred and eleven), or space (readings). For each of them Hussein Chalayan uses a new medium, be it printed fabric, rugs, videos... And there is absolutely no repetition in his work. Nor does there seem to be any desire to come back to something he’s done before and develop it again.

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Everything is fresh and seems to stem from something new, resulting in pieces completely different in forms and expressions, still all remaining relevant. All this demands an outstanding capacity and openness to new  ways of making. Each time must have been a new learning experience, a discovery into different crafts and possibles (using new technology) which no doubt Birrgit and Stuart, whom I met on the opening night, must have spent a few sleepless nights on, working in the studio. The ‘blood and sweat’ over these pieces can’t however be seen. It’s all too impeccable. Birrgit told me the Geotropics (SS/1999) was the first dress she’d worked on, while Stuart was painstakingly sewing rugs together for Genometrics (AW/2005). Both very proud. Rightly so.

Although these big shows can sometimes be daunting for artists who do not wish to see 15 years of work reduced to a one-hour-round-show, in Hussein’s case, it is important to see as much of his work as possible in order to start and get a grasp of it. The pieces are so varied, it is the assemblage, or in this case the juxtaposition of all of them, which gives us an understanding of his work, or Oeuvre.

Because the relationships between them are just as important as the works themselves. Because when you’ve seen Place to passage, it might cast a different light onto Temporal meditations.

For all these reasons, I recommend to go and see the show.

Pouvoir me rendre à cette exposition était un immense plaisir et un vrai privilège. Hussein Chalayan n’est pas seulement un couturier, c’est aussi un artiste capable d’utiliser aussi bien la vidéo, le son que les technologies interactives, afin de développer ses idées, et ce toujours avec une aisance et élégance déconcertante.

La scénographie de l’exposition a été réalisée par Zoe Smith et Graeme Williamson de Block Architecture, qui avaient déjà co-signé la première boutique de Hussein Chalayan au Japon. Pour cette exposition, les oeuvres sélectionnées sont présentées avec attention et respect, sans distraction. Murs blancs, stores tirés pour laisser percevoir l’oeuvre suivante, et LED blancs pour les titres. Comme pour toute oeuvre d’art, les titres sont très importants et en voici quelques examples: Panoramics; Before minus now; Ambimorphous;  Geotropics; Place to passage; Manifest destiny; Temporal meditations; Genometrics; Absent Presence.

Chaque oeuvre est un projet de recherche en soi, l’un s’attaquant à la notion de voyage (Place to passage), tandis que l’autre parle d’identité, ou de protection (Repose), de temps (Give hundred and eleven) ou d’espace (readings). Chaque oeuvre trouve un medium d’expression différent: impressions sur tissu, tapisserie, vidéos... sans qu’il ne se répète jamais. Hussein Chalayan ne semble pas vouloir revenir sur ses oeuvres pour les reprendre et les décliner.