Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Concise Dictionary of Dress

The Concise Dictionary of Dress - trailer from Artangel on Vimeo.

This is the trailer for the Concise Dictionary of Dress Exhibition at Blythe House, which I visited last Wednesday, it just gives an idea of what the exhibition is about. What I found after visiting the exhibition is that rather than being a dictionary of dress, it was more about taking Adam Philips definitions and using the idea of dress to show these in 3 dimensions, therefore I am not sure if it was more about about the idea of dress or of the definitions. Although, the website ( says this was the purpose of the installation:

"Commissioned by Artangel, The Concise Dictionary of Dress re-describes clothing in terms of anxiety, wish and desire, as a series of definitions created by psychoanalyst Adam Phillips and accompanying installations designed and assembled by fashion curator Judith Clark."

However, although the concept and the message Clark and Philips were trying to send was slightly unclear to me, I thought the definitions were very interesting. It was quite thought-provoking the way all the definitions would seem to be true of a word and showed how one word can mean such different things in different contexts. I also thought that there were some clever links between the definitions and what type of dress was shown in correlation to that definition. It did seem as though Clark was literally showing Philips' definitions in 3 dimensions; his ideas had became physical objects.

I thought the location of the exhibition at Blythe House, which is the archive for the V&A, the Science Museum and the Natural History Museum, worked well because often going around the exhibition, you couldn't tell if something was being stored there or if it was actually a part of the installation.

I think this was useful to my project in that it showed me another way of realising a concept. I had the idea of a throw-away, ephemeral magazine and showing this literally using translucent paper to print the magazine on. It also held a relation to the conceptual designers I am looking at such as Viktor and Rolf, because the installation had meaning and was based on the concept of Philips' definitions.

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