MORT de la MODE….Everything must go!
Images Curtesy of Company Gallery & Women’s History Museum: MORT de la MODE….Everything must go!
Mattie Rivkah Barringer and Amanda McGowan, the women behind the art and fashion-infused project aptly named Women’s History Museum (WHM), encompasses the identity of the dishevelled yet calculated 80s-intersects-Georgian-esque feel. According to theguide.art, the pair met at an NYU transfer orientation event and were bombarded by Urban Outfitters and Alexander Wang clones, “depressing” in its sheer lack of enthusiasm and sterility.
The two eventually began experimenting with fashion as a medium, often donning both a morsel of fashion and art—a hand edging in both cookie jars, if you will. But perhaps, that is why you might want to grab at the tufts of their silhouettes and inspect why it is so demanding of your attention. It acts as a savvy ploy to wander us into the realms of beauty. And Company Gallery, on March 17 2021, seemed to think so too, hosting WHM’s ‘inaugural’ exhibition, MORT de la MODE….Everything must go! and representing them shortly thereafter in June of this year.
MORT de la MODE….Everything must go!—The simplicity of changing the context of a gallery into a shop, is only another anecdotal string to WMH’s bow. To set the scene, the pair eluded to an abandoned shop, keeping in mind the familiar parades of blacked-out windows, smeared window-friendly markers berating its passers-by: “STORE CLOSING”, “EVERYTHING MUST GO”, “RETAIL SPACE FOR RENT” that we’re all bleakly desensitised to, now more than ever.
The illusion of grandeur dissipates in the final act of financial ruin, and so WMH remarks, “Our abandoned shop stands as a relic of these shared spaces—a tomb of capitalist ills. It is a rumination on the longing for opulence, mitigated by the grim dead ends of our material reality and the undeniable waste of our society. We indulge in manic aesthetics of materialism run amok, all the while striving for a space of fantasy.”
Barringer and McGowan teeter between a blurred line of morbidity and beguilement, offering glimpses of their conceptual motivations: the human form and decay—time as a yardstick for wear and tear, and all the processes and enchantment of degradation in between. Commenting on “virtual commerce as a natural new habitat for shopping mania,” the “perils of online shopping” are explored in the exhibition’s video game, Boutique Virtuelle: Massive Disposa. “The setting of the game is a metaphorical mall meant to embody the main character’s compulsive online shopping habits. Stuck in this dead space, the character must collect items to possibly escape or else remain in a purgatory of lonely delirium.”
The exhibition extends to sculptures, Vivienne Westwood-reminiscent boots perched on freestanding, low-rise plinths halted up by transparent stilts (footrests that women might be all too familiar with at the gynaecologist), mannequins draped in hooded, mismatched-patchwork reminiscent (all too comically) by the regurgitated (and late-to-the-party) London fashion weeks’ Charlotte Knowles SS21 collection and a broad range of collections and designers thereafter. Barringer and McGowan are the ministers of the church. They’ve been experimenting with the notion of adverse fashion for the past six years, and most aptly, this exhibition is felicitous in more ways than one.
Not only does it propose a mirror for our corporeal conscience, consumerism and greed alike, but it (likely unknowingly) presents an ironic curveball: High fashion is commercialising WMH’s style, six years later. And WMH is partly art. Ha ha ha. And what’s more, it’s completely unsurprising. And what’s more—there’s more—the exhibition partly explores corporeal greed through monetising our online shopping extravaganzas. One has to laugh, if not, they’ll cry.
“The mode is mort, and still we shop.”
88 Eldridge Street, 5th Floor
New York, New York 10002
HOURS: Wednesday – Saturday 12 – 6pm
Words: Sarah Buckley