[10/15/13 1:28:08 PM] Mats Carlsson:
SALE on sale
”[…] [I]t is today’s artists who display excremental objects of art who, far from undermining the logic of sublimation, are desperately trying to save it”. (Žižek 2008: 28)
”According to the May 2007 Vogue, sustainable fashion appears not to be a short-term trend but one which could last multiple seasons.” (Wikipedia 2013: unpaginated)
Fashion adheres to the paradoxical logic of the materialization of ephemeral exchangeability. What does this mean? Well, the inherent philosophy of the industry is
that of constant elaboration, in creating and following trends our designers perpetuate the consumerist fever; features and styles - transitory and impressionable - calling upon the fashion buyers to constantly recreate their ideal egos.
Ever since Eve made our nakedness impossible to bear, textile has served as the constant reminder of the horribly desirous flesh beneath. Fashion, therefore, is our social skin. But if bare skin ignites the hunger of the flesh and reminds us of our unquenchable thirst for drippingly lustful corporeal encounters, what then to make out of the desirous pea-cockish nature of fashionable clothing? Isn’t the image of the peacock, this brightly colored bird with its stiff and elongated feathers quivering in the display of courtship, a suitable analogy for the primary function of fashion as such? In fleeing sexuality, we displace and fetishize it.
How then, could fashion be sustainable? The very core of fashion, its indifferent exchangeability, denies the pretence of perpetuity inherent to the ecological project. This antagonism is ruthlessly exposed in the SALE t-shirt project of Max Ronnersjö and Fanny Waller. Their printed t-shirt resembles the ones you would find on the mannequins in a store having a sale; as in “coats on sale this week.” Since you cannot get them from the stores, they made their own.
Before going any further, let us have a look at the emblematic printed t-shirt. Perhaps
there never was a time when one wore an Iron Maiden t-shirt only to signal one’s
admiration for this particular band, but at one point in time this print at least had the
ability to denote that source. Today the same t-shirt won’t denote much, still connoting, yes, albeit subjected to the hollowing despair of late neoliberalist capitalism something entirely different than yesteryear; namely the investment in a kind of mythologized flirtation with the past, a past to consume rather than to contemplate or admire. It is as if the signifier of Eddie the Head adorning the t-shirts has been untethered from the signified of the transgressive heavy metal band of past, the monstrous signifier nothing but a de-historicized mockery sustained by its immersion into the generalized exchange of meaning. This is fashion today. Relating to the fate fallen upon t-shirts - and commodities and signs - Ronnersjö and Waller challenges the network of non-meaning by producing a piece of consumable everyday fashion with all the characteristics of a denoting sign. The fact that a t-shirt announcing a sale is always already trash, in the sense that it never enters the realm of market exchange, is what grants this retail artwork the mark of excess exposing the inanity of the union of commercialism and ecology.
Žižek, S. (2008) The Fragile Absolute, London: Verso.
Wikipedia (2014) Sustainable fashion. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_fashion. Accessed January 8th 2014
A sale is the act of selling a product or service in return for money or other compensation. Signalling completion of the prospective stage, it is the beginning of an engagement between customer and vendor or the extension of that engagement.
It can also be a special disposal of goods at lowered prices: coats on sale this week.
The SALE t-shirt is just a way to get a hold of t-shirts with the
SALE-print. You can’t get them from the stores, so we made them ourselves.
It’s like you just took a t-shirt from a mannequin and put on.
These t-shirts have an intrinsic critique, the sale as such is in itself not sustainable, it is about maximizing production.
what is wrong with fashion?
it depends on the context, certainly inddividuals want to survive in a competitive business-driven artworld, and being perceived as fashionable can help with that. but how does it help change society’s values so they are more progressive, and less reactionary and exploitative? i saw a conference at the