The Enigma of the Fashion Object

2006 | Between Stigma and Enigma

This programme celebrates the secret life of clothes, and the enigmatic qualities that emanate from the filmic treatment of their materiality. Including extraordinary footage by filmmakers and artists such as Georges Méliès, Hans Richter and Erwin Wurm, it is a collection of film techniques which set clothes’ empty shells in motion. Through various modes of displaying they allow clothes to assume new shapes or spin off into abstraction. Clothes and cloth are presented in rituals such as folding and unfolding, touching and feeling, soaking and inflating, transforming, flying or dancing. They are independent, at least to a degree, of the body parts that normally give them meaning. By obscuring their immediate function, films in this programme reveal clothes as estranged, dreamlike, playful and elusive—making them potent carriers of fascination, desire, emotion and sensual pleasure.

With an introduction by programme co-curator Marketa Uhlirova +
artist-filmmaker Anna-Nicole Ziesche in conversation with fashion designer Hamish Morrow 

>Read Marketa Uhlirova’s essay The Enigma of the Fashion Object
>Read Caroline evans’ essay Anna-Nicole Ziesche’s States of Mind and Dress
>Read Marion von Hofacker’s essay Richter’s Films and the Role of the Radical Artist
>Read Lynda Nead’s essay Georges Méliès’s Le déshabillage impossible and Ferdinand Zecca’s Monsieur et Madame sont pressées
>Read Renate Stauss’ essay Erwin Wurm’s 59 Positions
>Read Sam Serafy’s essay Warner’s Corset Advertisement
>Read Petra Dominková and Vaclav Kofron’s essay The Extinct Globe and the Found Glove


Warner Corset Advertisement

Though next to nothing is known about the production of the film, it was clearly constructed with a sophisticated combination of motion-picture technique and skilled salesmanship... More »

Ghosts Before Breakfast

Hans Richter's Ghosts Before Breakfast (Vormittagsspuck, 1928) challenges the realism of filmic image with abstract and graphic forms... More »

Going to Bed Under Difficulties

Grotesque situations based entirely around clothes' rebellion and subversion were championed in this Georges Méliès' eccentric mise-en-scènes that combined elements of theatrical performance... More »

In a Hurry to Catch a Train

In Ferdinand Zecca's In a Hurry to Catch a Train, a direct variation on Méliès' earlier How He Missed His Train (1901), a man and his wife unsuccessfully try to get dressed... More »

The Extinct World of Gloves

The gloves in Jiří Bárta's 1982 animation become metaphors for people. In the film's six episodes told through "found" film footage... More »

A Week in Film no. 12

A commercial adversiting stockings shows women models/presenters pointing out to the camera the delicate texture of "silon"... More »

Tough Stockings

A commercial advertising stockings shows women models/presenters pointing out to the camera the delicate texture of nylon... More »

States of Mind and Dress

With background in fashion design, Ziesche uses a film to animate the "empty shells" of clothes in order to arrive at new shapes... More »

59 Positions

In the 59 struggles for a position in Erwin Wurm's 1992 video piece 59 Positions, the artist's body and clothes are displayed in the act... More »

Chapels (Bernhard Willhelm)

The processes of designing clothes (and oneself) through film are evoked in Diane Pernet's experimental mini-documentary series Chapels... More »