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By Anita Senaratna
June 24, 2013
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By Anita Senaratna
June 24, 2013
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The idea of fashion as an art form is something that gets debated quite a lot — can something so commercially driven and seasonal ever make a lasting impact?
That’s the idea that the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation wants to explore with their latest initiative, Feel and Think: A New Era of Tokyo Fashion. The exhibition consists of five elaborate installations by Japanese fashion designers ANREALAGE, Theatre Products, mintdesigns, SASQUATCHfabrix and writtenafterwards, as well as artist conversations, film screenings, a runway show and pop-up store at SCAF headquarters in Paddington. The exhibition was previously held in Tokyo but has been expanded into five site-specific installations at the National Art School Gallery in Darlinghurst, which has a long history of art-based fashion, boasting Akira Isogawa and Romance was Born as alumni.
While many of the installations are constructed around their latest collections, this is done with wit and elements of kitsch and often makes statements beyond 'look at the pretty clothes'. Perhaps the work that embodies these things the most is the one by Sasquatchfabrix. Located at the entrance to the gallery, it’s a large buffalo with a skin constructed entirely from stitched-together fragments of what appear to be leather jackets. It’s visually fascinating in itself, even before the 'I see what you did there' realisation dawns on you. Cattle, leather, get it? I was a bit slow on the uptake on that one.
The second floor of the exhibition takes you to an intriguing work by avant-garde label Anrealage featuring two side by side shop displays with identical layouts — except for the fact that one contains short, wide mannequins with short, wide clothing and the other contains towering, elongated versions of the same display, including a skinny typewriter and spindle-legged display table.
The installation by Theatre Products experiments with interactivity, with visitors invited to scan the clothes on display, and creates an interesting contrast between the carefully constructed clothes and shoes, all tagged with large barcodes that produce a loud, echoing beep when scanned.
The word 'anarchic' is being used a lot in promotional material for Feel and Think, but the better way of describing its general feel? 'Self-aware'.

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