Fashion and Photography
An Inclusive Interdisciplinary Project

Friday 29th June 2018 – Saturday 30th June 2018
Palermo, Italy

Conference Abstracts and Papers

“Now You See Me” A History of Self Portraiture
Michael James O’Brien
Savannah College of Art and Design

Key Words:
Appropriation, Pictures Generation, Momento Mori, Self-Portraiture, Selfie, Gender Performance, Digitalization, Reproduction.

In a subjective survey from the first known self-portrait, which was probably a daguerreotype by Robert Cornelius from 1839, this presentation will follow the themes and standards of self-portraiture to the present day when, through various platforms, the internet is rampant with edited and unedited content.

The talk will concentrate on the photographic self-portrait but also reference critical themes in painting, performance and installation when relevant.

The works will be viewed according to concept, inspiration and influence rather than in strict chronology.

Some important topics include:
the self-portrait as commercial self-promotion,
the self-portrait as memento mori, the self-portrait as gender performance, the self-portrait for enhanced skill development, among others.

Included in the survey: Countess de Castiglione, Cindy Sherman, Rembrandt, Lucas Samaras, Gilbert & George, The Rhodes Bros youtube diaries, Francesca Woodman, John Coplans, Eadweard Muybridge, Henri Fantin-Latour, Marcel Duchamp, Yasumasa Morimura, Courbet, Andy Warhol, Alex Felix-Gonzales, the extensive output of Instagram photos by fashion icon, Daniel Lismore (quoting Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”) as well as a selection of international emerging artists.

Initiates of the Inner Circle – Fashion Photography as a New Mythogenetic Tool
Felix Abrudan
Cultural Anthropologist and Freelance Conceptual Fashion Photographer

Key Words:
Art; Conceptual Photography; Cultural Revitalization; Exhibition; Fashion Photography; Globalization; Mediascapes; Pagan Antiquity; Symbolism; Visual Culture;

Spending most of your lives in increasingly usurping technoscapes people outside of established religious dogmae forget how to engage with spiritual needs. I envisioned this conceptual fashion photography series as a mnemonic device for the Great Eleusinian Mysteries.

The dark, steamy, damp and low lit background should not only reference the mythic decent of the Goddess Demeter into the shadowy realm of undeath, but equally so the descent of the initiates into the occult vaults of the underground temple Telesterion on the foothills of ancient Athens. The initiation ritual of the Mysteries remains in the firm grasp of history’s amnesia, according to legend, the visions of the Holy Night that the participants experienced were life changing. In the modern context of a world wrought with increased loss of identity and by distrust of our fellows, a belief in the transmigration of souls – reincarnation – seems to be much needed, to remind us that we are indeed all one. Chimeric aspects of the One primal essence, such is my belief was the central vision of the Mysteries and this provided people with a sense of peace. Equally so, my photographic series should be interpreted as a three act story, concerning the descent, the ritual joining of opposites and the realization of higher consciousness. The figures, male and female, thus perform a seemingly erotic, but also highly combative ritual dance, which explores the stages of expression of form: the initial attraction of opposites, the display of and resistance to dominance and ultimately the introversion into liberating self-consciousness. This ultimate triumphant act, the liberation from the worldly self is represented symbolically by the abandonment of garb and glitter, indicators of thanatos. Such a photographic recontextualization enables ordinary commodities to become potent ritual objects.

Beckham’s Sa’Wrong. Fashioning a more Flexible Masculinity and the Softening of Soccer
Christopher Hodge
United Kingdom

Feminisation of Football Using popular football cultural references and materials gleaned from a hyper-masculine past and combining local & global craft techniques, this project aims to explore the new feminisation of football through the removal of boundaries in mens sports dressing and creating a more fluid kit which celebrates & deifies the modern football fashionista. Exploring movement and kinetic strength andjuxtaposing the semiotics of hyper -masculinty against more recognised feminine forms and fabrications.
When Beckham wore ‘that’ sarong everything changed! In one sartorial second we segued from football to fashion and the misnoma ‘Uber – Metrosexual’ Mark Simpson 1994; was struck. The femminisation of football had begun and the previous patriachial hegemony of players past was to spawn a new breed of prospective deified super player who was wasn’t afraid to dress up or strip off in the pursuit of brand advancement and a new super soccer star societal identity.

Global Ethno-Scape Maintaining and Expressing Ethnic-Identity Through Contemporary Fashion
Kencovia Jean-Baptiste
Savannah College for Art and Design

Key Words:
Ethno-Scape, Cultural Identity, Ethnic Consumption, Globalization, Capitalism

Economic and cultural globalization, in the 21st century, has ushered in extreme awareness in almost every aspect of identity. For centuries, fashion has become the easiest and greatest catalyst of self-expression. What is most intriguing is the ongoing immense pressure for individuals to quickly find their self-identities and voices in an ever changing society. As individuals move around and cross borders, maintaining and expressing their ethnic identities becomes even more sacred and important than ever before. This is a dimension, according to Arjun Appadurai, known as ethno-scape. And as we adapt ethno-cultures, and fashions from it, our self-identity becomes mixed and skewed over time. This paper will stimulate discussions about the global ethno-scape from a fashion perspective, and how our ability to imitate and morph, allows us to conform and differentiate, belong and isolate, ourselves within social groups and society. Personally, I have experienced this transformation as a native of The Bahamas emigrating to the United States. Although there is no “national dress” (a distinctive cultural attire) of The Bahamas, I still found it difficult to express my nostalgia for my ethno-culture. Today, the political climate of the world, has led us to continue to adversely discriminate against those that show a distinct ‘dress’ that expresses a specific ethno-cultural background. Tactlessly, sub-cultures generate fashions as a part of the becoming of an ethno-scape. In 2008, Veena Chattaraman and Sharron J. Lennon, conducted a study that investigated whether ethnic consumer’s consumption of cultural apparel, and attributional responses related to their consumption, is predicted by the strength of ethnic identification. Although my proposal will not venture in depth on cultural/ethnic consumption, this research does provide a prospective that can be attributed as valuable. It is my hope that my proposal will create a better understanding of the ongoing contradiction and struggle to maintain ones’ ethno-cultural identity in an ever changing, contemporary fashionable world.

The Impact of Social Media and Technology
Vanessa Khattar

Abstract No Available

Light, Shadow and Magic: Antiquarian Photographic Processes and Contemporary Photography
Elizabeth Turk
Savannah College of Art & Design/Atlanta

Key Words:
Historic Photography Processes, Photograms Wet Plate Collodion, Van Dyke Prints, Cyanotype Prints, Palladium Prints, Cameraless Images, Pinhole Cameras, Camera Obscura, Large Format Cameras

A century and a half ago photography came to us as a gift–the product of decades and lifetimes of curious intrepid minds asking the right questions about light and chemistry; its discovery (or invention) was fueled by their wish for the implausible: to capture and hold forever “the moment”. Fast forward to now: the same appetite and curiosity finds us in a digital age where photography, capturing the shadow, is available to anyone.

In the mid 19-century, photography was a white European gentleman’s diversion. That was then. Now everyone everywhere photographs, incessantly. Every day scores of millions of pictures are made, sent to the ether, never to been seen again, nor missed.

The world changes daily; we are the prime agents of this change. We demand and expect cutting edge technology, which augments our ability to share information globally. This power, unexpectedly, also isolates us; numbs us; insulates us from the full spectrum of aesthetic sensibility. Social media makes us less social.

This presentation confronts this conundrum by probing the meaning and value of new technologies; and we explore their real world _ and their theoretical effect on artists. It will also focus on the revival of nearly forgotten photographic techniques, formulas and practices. These “antiquarian processes” generate pictures made by the hand of the artist, images imbued with pleasure and wonder; pictures which embody subtly–the dark mystery of some elusive, ephemeral truth. It is alchemy, replete with its own mysteries and unexpected pleasures.

Towards the Creation of the Digital Library for the History & Culture of Cypriot Dress
Noly Moyssi
The Cyprus Institute, Cyprus

Key Words:
Digital Library, Cypriot Dress, Ottoman Rule, British Rule, New Technologies.

The project for the History and Culture of the Cypriot Dress aims at the creation of an innovative digital library that will facilitate the study and dissemination of the history of the Cypriot dress in its broader socioeconomic and cultural context. Utilizing the available written, visual and material evidence, primary focus is given to the early modern and modern eras corresponding to the periods of Ottoman and British rule. During this time the development of Cypriot dress mirrored aspects of the cultural identity, the daily life and the socioeconomic aspirations of the various strata of Cypriot society as they transitioned between the insular realities of Ottoman Cyprus and the island’s gradual Europeanization in the colonial context of the British Empire.

Overall, the aim is: a) to collect information and present dress items and costumes used in Cyprus, in a way that will facilitate their study and scientific research, b) to evaluate and preserve the documented material as a valuable part of both tangible and intangible heritage, as expressions of national, religious and cultural identity, and, c) to tell the story behind each item, to reveal the know-how, the secrets of all arts involved in their creation, to bring out the symbolic meaning hidden in each object, to decipher the codes of communication between the people who used to wear them.

Furthermore, the Digital Library for the History and Culture of the Cypriot Dress will be an integral part of the framework of Dioptra, the Cyprus Institute’s digital library for Cypriot Culture. It is worth mentioning that the project that started in 2015 will be the first comprehensive attempt to utilize the great opportunities offered in the field of Digital Cultural Heritage for the study and dissemination of the history of dress in Cyprus.

Capturing the Invisible – The Photograph as Evidence of Hair Styles Lost
Donna Bevan
Southampton Solent University, United Kingdom

Key Words:
Performance, Transformation, Evidence, Archive

Through my recent work on the exhibition, Beehives Bobs and Blow-dries, Celebrating hair and hairdressing in the post war period, I have had to work extensively with the photograph as record and representation of hair styling over the last 50 years. This has been achieved through archive collections, hair magazines and wider fashion press as well as individual /personal collections. These range of images offer an insight into styles long gone, from street style to catwalk, which has been vital given the nature of the material I am researching. Unlike the history of fashion, which is so lovingly preserved in archives and private collections around the world, we cannot hold onto our hair fashion past.

This recording of the final look and often how to get the style, addressed in the photographic records I have utilized, is vital when the creation is so transitory.
Without these images we would have no evidence of past styles – although pre photography we have rely on painting/drawing and sculpture.

So while I did find the odd wig and hair piece in archives and collections it was only through the photographic image that I was able to piece these items to the body and to see them in this context and to the wider fashion objects of a given period.

My aim is to discuss some of the curatorial uses of such a wide range of photographic imagery and evidence within our current exhibition .Due to the lack of the original artifact photographic images formed a major part of the display as evidence from magazine, replacing celebrities a but also charting the influences of street style. Subcultural images of Teddy Girls immortalized by Ken Russell punks of Derek Ridgers and Honey Salvadori.
We also commissioned the work of fashion photographer Ram Shergill as collaboration with hairdresser Andrew Barton that I art directed as part of the exhibition content and publicity.

Steven Klein – The Dark Side of Beauty
Leonardo Iuffrida
Independent Scholar, Bologna, Italy

Key Words:
Nudity, Sexuality, Pornography, Fetish, Gender, Identity, Post-Modern, Post-Human.

Steven Klein is considered one of the most controversial photographers of our time who, with his dramatic and erotically-charged style, has contributed to create the avant-garde imagery of magazines such as Vogue and W. If his provocative photographs are mainly seen for being among the most discussed images in the fashion world, beyond the glossy and shocking factor, there is an eye-opening and disturbing representation of the world we live in.

Using a narrative and cinematographic style where every photo is made as an isolated frame or a suspended moment of a thriller movie, Steven Klein seduces the audience, luring them into an intriguing mystery to solve. Unsettling and glamourous atmospheres, cyborgs, polished skin, metallic high heels, leather boots, blood and shining muscles are the precious clues given to the reader of fashion magazines that far from being a mere viewer becomes witness and active attendee of uncanny truths about beauty, sexuality, the body and our own identities.

This paper uses an interdisciplinary method, from sociology to history of art, that will argue that Steven Klein’s use of sci-fi and sadomasochist scenarios, fetishism and pornographic photography, analysed in their functioning, are homologous elements that show a new way of experience and feeling imposed onto the contemporary: the objectification of present-day humanity in a post-human era characterized by the reconstruction of self.

Performing Fashion
Theo Tyson

Key Words:
Fashion, Clothing, Dress, Gender, Performativity, Patriarchy, Femininity, Masculinity, Androgyny, Photography

The research to be presented will offer discourse on fashion in the form of clothing and dress as the preeminent distinction of gender and examines performativity as a manifestation of societal dress codes that have been historically binary. Every gender has an expectation and that expectation is performed through clothing and dress that has typically only had nominal categories for consideration – female or male and feminine or masculine. As definitions of the aforementioned begin to diversify, so should the determinate dress codes to which they correspond. The research is centered on the idea that if we are only performing our gender and it is not inherent, than that performance does not need to be consistent in practice or identity. It goes on further to denounce the importance of gender in favor of a more androgynous application of garments in fashion. Our societal fashion cues and subsequent collective behavior and acceptances of garments as decidedly male or female is predicated on antiquated gender roles and sexual identities rooted in patriarchal heteronormativity. Drawing on previous discourses on the topic of gender performativity, this paper will unpack and underscore the importance of fashion as garment, system, and industry on the development of gender identities. Fashion photography of original images are used in exhibition format to expand on the written research to offer visual support of the blurred lines of gender performance with accompanying narrative via personal interviews with the subjects. Concluding the research are arguments for the removal of gender roles present in fashion and moving towards a more androgynous style of dress that alters the constructs and constraints of femininity and masculinity as performed through fashion to create a platform for gender equity.

Darshan Chandekar

No Abstract Available

Textures Pop-up Lab: An Interactive Workshop on Black Fashion and Visual Culture
Tanisha Ford
University of Delaware

Tamara Walker
University of Toronto

Brandi Thompson-Summers
Virginia Commonwealth University

Key Words:
Fashion, Style, Diaspora, Gender, Sexuality, Digital Media, Print Media, Textiles, Artifice

TEXTURES is a pop-up material culture lab creating and curating content at the intersection(s) of fashion, bodies, and the built environment. #TeamTextures, as we’re known on social media, travels the world, engaging with curators, photographers, and other creatives. We have professional training in public history, sociology, architecture, photography, and museum studies, but we have a great love of fashion and beauty culture. We created TEXTURES so we could bridge our professional goals with our creative interests and hobbies. #TeamTextures also produces and curates our own projects, including our “Churches and Bodegas” photo series. Shot on an iPhone, the project explores gentrification in Brooklyn and the ways people of color navigate the space amidst the encroachment of Whole Foods, yoga studios, and microbreweries catered to the new white residents.

For the “Fashion and Photography Project,” we are proposing an interactive workshop wherein we build the foundation for our next multi-media pop-up exhibition: Black Fashion and/as Artifice. We will offer the participants/audience a window into our creative process, allowing them to touch and engage with the textiles and other items we share as they help us shape the contours of the exhibit. Tanisha Ford will focus on the Afro wig, exploring why it remains a hotly contested fashion statement of the global black politics of the 1970s. Siobhan Carter-David will explore the world of vintage African American lifestyle magazines, noting how they functioned as how-to fashion manuals. Tamara Walker will focus on how Afro-Latin American models use self-portrait series to engage issues of race, beauty and gender in ways both somber and sexually playful. Brandi Thompson Summers will center on African wax prints and the rise of Instagram fashion cultures in the social media age. The workshop will be moderated by historian and make-up artist Tiffany Gill.

A Story of Loss and Suffering: The Phenomenological Contributions of Tom Ford’s ‘A Single Man’
June Jordan
Cape Peninsula University of Technology
South Africa

Key Words:
Fashion, Photography, Film, Tom Ford, Architectural Place-making, Phenomenology

This paper departs from the point of view that the discourse of architecture stands to gain a great deal from the disciplines of fashion and photography. The film, A Single Man, directed by Tom Ford – interior architect, come fashion designer, come film maker – will be used as a case in this regard. ‘Fashion in architecture’ is a certainly a controversial term, especially with the rise of the ‘Starchitect’ and the ‘Bilbao Effect’ on the one hand, and a shift toward transformative and socially just architecture on the other. Similarly, the role of photography and film in architecture has in recent years been brought to question, as such critiques ascribe the ‘spectators gaze’ of architectural texts and the ocularcentric nature of our discipline, visual porn, to these media. This paper subverts these critiques by illustrating how fashion and photography can, in fact, give atmospheric and experiential insights into scenarios and places, providing valuable insights for architectural place-making. A Single Man is a story, set over the course of one day, about loss and suffering. A phenomenology of loss and suffering is concretized in this film through various phenomena, such as time, light, colour, sound, objects in space, articles of clothing and the home. The film provides us with a perspectival perception (Merleau-Ponty) of these phenomena, through the body and the mind of the protagonist, in both the present, and the past through memory. These are all aspects that contribute to a multisensory, embodied, and oneiric sense of place. Additional themes of domesticity, gender and heteronormativity are elaborated on in the discussion. In reference to the existential meta-narrative of the film, the paper concludes by fundamentally challenging transient and static notions of fashion and photography, respectively, that exist in architectural discourse, and urges an episteme that prioritises the experiential nature of architectural place-making.

Recuerdos de Nicaragua: Remembering the Dress of Nicaragua’s Indigenous & Afro-descendant People in German & Moravian Photography
Jasmine Helm
Unravel: A Fashion Podcast

In 1849, the German Moravian Church began a protestant Christian mission in Nicaragua. They built churches in the Bluefields, a region along the Caribbean coast also referred to as the Mosquito Coast. The area is home to several Afro-indigenous communities including the

Miskito, Mayangna, Rama, Garifuna and the black Creole people. “Unlike other Europeans of that era, they [Moravians] did not come to the Caribbean Coast of Central America in search of riches,” notes scholar Benjamin Tillman. Rather, the missionaries’ 1 goal was to convert the native populations to Protestant Christianity and colonize the region. One of the methods to spread the news of their work, was photography. In the early twentieth century, the Moravian missionaries and German immigrants in Nicaragua took ethnographic-style pictures of Moravian occupied. A fro-indigenous communities. The photographs were published and circulated as postcards for tourists entitled “Recuerdos de Nicaragua.”2 The postcard series included images of Afro-indigenous people in both their indigenous dress and in European-style clothing. The Moravian missionaries encouraged the Afro-indigenous Nicaraguans to wear European cotton ensembles instead of their traditional dress that included of tunu bark cloth textiles. The missionaries’ conversion of Afro-indigenous population’s native dress to Euro-style clothing was documented in the postcards, which functioned as a tool of acculturation and eventual ethnocide. As of yet, the dress of the Afro-indigenous communities and the impact of the Moravian missions on their dress and material culture has not been researched. In this paper, I will analyse the German produced ethnographic postcards from 1900 to 1940 to determine how the dress and visual identity of the Afro-indigenous Nicaraguans changed due to the presence of the Moravian missions.