words Helen Marten
An exhibition of more than 35 years of Comme des Garçons’ advertising campaigns is currently on show in its London emporium at Dover Street Market. Printed Matter is a series of installations that fills the six-floor haute-couture menagerie.
Rei Kawakubo was a habitual promoter of collaborations between artists and designers, and it is not difficult to see how her Comme des Garçons advertising campaigns have amassed so spectacularly over the years into a lasting set of visuals. These have now found their way onto tunnels, box-like configurations and open-ended booths, designed by Kawakubo herself, and sprawled haphazardly throughout the store.
Most prolific is the work of Argentinean art collective, Mondonogo, whose unconventional use of materials – biscuits, plasticine, pulses – lends the two-dimensional surfaces of the temporary structures a distinctly visceral texture. Energetic and generous with their subject matter, Mondogno’s posters invoke sinister and sexual undertones, with bizarrely static portraits, entrails and fairytale imagery all adding to this stylised face of kitsch.
Playing similar aesthetic games, Dutch artist Amie Dicke re-composes popular imagery, cutting pieces from magazine pages in a kind of inverted collage. A glittering emblem of franchise, a cut-and-paste Kate Moss sneers from an enormous wall, exemplary of our obsession with fashion’s avant-garde and a cynical reminder of the greatest all-time coinage, “commodity fetishism”.
The whole exhibition is a self-conscious staging of excess, an installation that sits comfortably in the bustling environment of a central London fashion retailer.
top image Mondongo
Mondongo; CDG (Beans, 1998); Tabaimo
Phillip Green (1989, SIX no.4, Beans); Mondongo; Tabaimo
Gilbert and George (1988, SIX no. 2, Beans); Mondongo
Mondongo; Andre Kertesz (S/S 1988, Beans)