The Blue Oyster Art Project Space | Exhibited Until 24 April

iD2k16 is a #lifestyle choice. It is a #fun and #sexy brand expo. iD2k16 equates #health with wealth; be the healthiest you that you can be.

iD2k16 explores a complex collection of issues including consumerism, fashion, brand and lifestyle culture, retail and art. It also critiques the authority of the curator and the “white cube” gallery space. iD2k16 features six artists, based both locally and internationally: Alessandra Banal, Clara Chon, Severine Costa, Motoko Kikkawa, Josephine Meade and Rose Thomas. While there are deliberate links between the practices of each artist, with most from a fine arts background, iD2k16 allows for disparate elements of contention in their works to sit together by not homogenising their practices. The title sums up iD2k16’s three-pronged challenge: identity, iD fashion week and iD the magazine, addressing the commercialisation of fashion and art in global mass culture, in which global conglomerates capitalise on lifestyle rhetoric.

The opening show transformed the gallery into a simulacrum of a retail expo or a “product demonstration”. The performance was sponsored by a slew of faux sponsors — Golden Centre Mall, Nike and Nutribullet. The usual gallery opening exchange was subverted — the drinks table had two Nutribullet demonstrators who provided the audience with unlimited nutrient-enhancing power shots and reiterated the mantra “health is wealth”. The security guards and product demonstrators were clad in pristine white lab coats, providing a sterility, authority and visual enticement similar to that of advertising. The self-help reaffirmations highlighted the individualised and affective strategies by which subjectivities are interrelated and commodified in consumer culture.

The exhibition opening then exaggerated the spectacle aspects of the art and fashion worlds by creating its own Instagram hashtag and flooding the feed of Blue Oyster’s Instagram with images of the opening.

The space itself is reminiscent of an upscale boutique space with its “conceptual” and tacky display tactics, which aim to create a faux sense of atmospheric depth. The window is altered into a shop window with visual merchandising — a bouquet of flowers and a scrolling LED sign. This design is subverted, however, by the scrolling light that states “CONSUME”.

Alessandra Banal’s commissioned merchandise, drink bottles, caps, tshirts and totebags acted as curatorial framing devices. Banal’s pieces are embroidered with iD2k16 and presented in the window and hung along the walls, emulating the spatial signifiers of a clothing store. Banal rearticulates wearable merchandise as art objects, opening a critique of the relationships formed between brands and the body, positioning the body as a performative branding tool — a walking billboard.

Josephine Mead and Rose Thomas both present video works. Mead’s work, Making and Remaking (2014), which is displayed in the window, shows her methodically repeating the actions of sewing and untying suspended fabric. Here she is highlighting the invisible labour behind fashion and the multitude of processes the body goes through with clothing and material — from the labour actions of creating to its wearing.

Motoko Kikkawa’s work is draped over markers within the space, challenging the white cube — a seaweed sculpture is laid over a switchboard and a fire hydrant, drawing attention to these overlooked gallery features. 

Chon’s work is a series of leather net bags, a studded and painted leather jacket and a safety pin embellished tshirt. Each piece is handcrafted, evidencing hours of tedious labour spent studding and creating intricate nets and attaching single safety pins. Costa’s work — a series of necklaces — is interlinked to Chon’s in its methodical, intricate and time-intensive labour processes. Costa subverts the concept of luxury, consumption and wearability by creating engulfing and visually compelling works from these materials. 

The gallery space for iD2K16 will be continuously evolving over the next two weeks. As a challenge to the authority of the curator’s role, artists Severine Costa and Motoko Kikkawa will alter the space as they wish. iD2K16 is a #smart #sexy #fun critique of the insufferably commodified multi-dimensional exchange in art and fashion spheres that cater to a classist paradigm.

This article first appeared in Issue 8, 2015.
Posted 2:38pm Sunday 19th April 2015 by Mya Middleton.