At Azko Nobel an immense factory building forms an impressive backdrop for the main exhibition. Divided into three themes (Atmospheres, Elements and Visions) artistic director Joffrey Moolhuizen, better known simply as JOFF, ensured it was not only our eyes which were engaged.
The young Rietveld Academy and Fashion Institute Arnhem graduate was envolved with previous editions of the Biennale as former art director Piet Paris' assistant in 2005 and as co-curator in 2007. Following the successful third edition of the AMB, JOFF aimed to "create a total experience, something that will leave a mark on an international level." And Amber most certainly will.
It is Amber - the embodiment of fashion - who forms the central theme for this year's edition, leading visitors through a maze of sights, sounds and even smells.
A 75-metre long hallway featuring a sound installation by artist Nico Muhly forms the first section and leads visitors to the Scent space. Here, columns emitting light and what seems to be a fine vapour, upon closer inspection prove to be scented smoke; the five notes that form the perfume Amber which was created especially for the Mode Biennale by Six Scents.
From this somewhat eerie room, we travel to a larger space where videos are projected on hanging screens. Fashion in Film, as this project is called, was founded at Central Saint Martins and supported by London Collge of Fashion. The research project investigated the various interfaces between fashion and film.
On the other side of the room hang photo-printed silk canvases displaying fashion in fine art photography, curated by Capricious magazine. The selected artists are not necessarily fashion photographers but have captured an idea of fashion in its purest form and outside of the editorial context.
From here we move through a spray-paint installation by Amie Dicke, on to Elements and pass a Nicholas Kirkwood and Keith Haring Foundation collaboration, through Berlin/Paris, fashion/design duo BLESS’ chain metal curtain installation and on to Visions, the third part of the exhibition.
Fashion designers are celebrated here, but not in the usual ‘clothes displayed on mannequins’ kinda way.
Inspirations, ideas, visions and concepts are presented side-by-side with the tangible garments; resulting in a fantasy world where fashion reigns supreme. Some of the biggest names in fashion such as Rodarte, Prada and Preen are presented next to installation by Patrik Ervell and Ann-Sofie Back Atelje. But the homegrown designers have certainly not been forgotten as an Iris van Herpen creation is transformed into a water feature thanks to Benthem Crouwel Architects, Klavers van Engelen garments are treated to a windmachine and Winka Dubbeldam of Archi-Tectonics' 3-D adaptation of a Siki Im blazer towers over our heads.
While the Azko Nobel site is sure to be the star of the Mode Biennale, over at the Museum of Modern Art the exhibition Get Real/Real Self curated by Joke Robaard and Giene Steenman is certainly not to be missed. Garments showing the evolution of outer clothing such as the parka and cape, are interspersed with artworks and quotes by philosopher Roland Barthes. The combination of clothing, fashion photography and modern art with archive materials allows the visitor of Get Real/Real Self a deeper exploration of fashion that will hopefully fire up a conversation.
Azko Nobel grounds, Velperweg 76, Arnhem
Museum of Modern Art Arnhem (MMKA), Utrechtseweg 87, Arnhem
The Mode Biennale will be on until 3 July, 2011. Check the website for more information on events and exhibitions.
Click on the images to enlarge
Main image: Bas Kosters
Other images: 1. Azko Nobel 2. Six Scents 3. Photography by Capricious 4. Amie Dicke 5. Nicholas Kirkwood and Keith Haring Foundation 6. Iris van Herpen 7. MaryMe-Jimmypaul 8. Patrik Ervell 9. Prada
Photography: Linda Stroo
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