Tag Archives: Fashion

D.I.Y. culture

In trying to explain street art it is not enough simply to provide a history of graffiti. Graffiti and ‘street art’ are part of contemporary D.I.Y. (do it yourself) culture that includes zines, music bands, fashion, raves and art parties. A D.I.Y. culture is a culture that is not inherited by tradition, it is not imported and is not purchased off the shelf. It is a culture requires some assembly (often cut and paste culture) or modification and interactive participation. It is hardly really a culture, but a proto-culture, a mutant culture, a dynamic evolving culture.

D.I.Y. culture is in direct competition with traditional culture, with mass produced consumer culture. It is engaged in a political-cultural battle with the powers that support traditional culture. For this reason it is frequently demonized, criminalized and otherwise suppressed because of the threat that it represents to traditional culture.

In the past great art followed the great empires; art followed the money and served as a symbol of power. It was the Dadaists who made a break from creating culture to serve homicidal empires and creating a D.I.Y. culture complete with zines, collages, fashion and haircuts. The Nazi’s and World War II cut short Europe’s early D.I.Y. culture; Hitler’s identification of the Dadaists as a danger to German culture is the first of many concerted attempts to eliminate D.I.Y. culture. The post-war baby boomers rediscovered the Dadaists and D.I.Y. culture flourished again.

D.I.Y. culture is a democratic culture, in that it is from the people and by the people. D.I.Y. culture is not, necessarily popular, it may even be an unpopular and minority taste but that doesn’t make it undemocratic. The distinction is that D.I.Y. culture is democratic rather than popularist; it is individual freedom of expression and opportunity rather than the rule of majority to praise or censor.

Democracy may appear difficult to reconcile with art and good taste, as much popular taste is definitively bad. Contemporary fashion is a good example of the democratization without a loss of style or taste. For example, the distinction between the classes in fashion is not as apparent it was a century ago. Society is no longer so concerned with suits and ties.

In most countries that call themselves democratic freedom of speech is effectively silenced by media ownership. The Chinese ‘democracy wall’ is an experiment that has not been repeated until blogging. In this respect some graffiti is a rebellion, an attempt to covertly exercise free speech. Graffiti groups, like Buga-up’s anti-tobacco advertising vandalism in the 1970s were a direct attack against the power of corporate advertising.

D.I.Y. culture should be distinguished from pop culture, in that pop culture is manufactured and popularist. But there are many points of confusion as D.I.Y. culture references pop culture, for example in stencil art, in lyrics and collage material. And D.I.Y. culture may become pop culture, for example, hip-hop or punk.

Fashion Show

Leeana Edward’s designs could be the fashion of the near future. Imagine streets, offices and homes full of people wearing dark structured modern clothes with clean lines emphasising their vertical forms. There are flashes of red and white with street art prints amidst the dark industrial clothing, for this is not distopia that bans colours, pleats and bows. It is a stylish future where people wear fashionable but practical clothes.

“Don’t even think of printed shirts…”

The media release for Leeana Edward’s “Urban Textiles” exhibition is so well written I just have to quote it and steal from it. The media release even makes sense; it is not bullshit, the “clean edge design and structured architectural tailoring” in her clothes do show Edward’s “fascination for the Bauhaus School of Design and for Japanese Art and Anime”. The modern elegance of Bauhaus design can be seen in Edward’s reinvention of the necktie into a collar and panel with clean edges. And the panel is enhanced with stencil or screen-prints like a panel from a kimono. In this case a high contrast one colour screen print of Johnny Depp’s face by Pav Art.

An exhibition of fashion, “a collection of one-off skirts, dresses and tops”, in an art gallery is a bold move. Displaying the collection on hanging or on tailor’s dummies allows the viewer more time to appreciate the structure of the garments and detailing than a few seconds of catwalk time. Another reason for the exhibition is to show the work at 696 where she meet her collaborators, Satta van Daal and Pav Art.

Her collaborators, the creators of the stencil and screen-prints for her garments, provided visual support to the exhibition. Impressively Pav Art had wallpapered the two exhibition rooms with giant black and white prints of streetscapes. And along with several of Satta van Daal’s canvases that combine stencil art with painterly fields, it made for stunning exhibition.

Street Party & Street Art

On the way to Sydney Rd Street Party, at Brunswick Station I had a good look at the wall of the house that formally had the Alice and hookah smoking caterpillar. This fine but very old piece of street art was replaced with a few aerosol pieces in January. These new pieces have now been replaced with full wall mural featuring some large silver aerosol piece, a scroll, and a Cyclops with a marker pen. It is better than the collection of earlier aerosol pieces but not by much.

I also noticed that Divali was a new gallery on the Art Almanac’s map of Outer Melbourne but as there was no listing I had see for myself. There doesn’t look like there is much art in Divali, it is a gift shop with pretensions. “Body Space Art” is the shop’s slogan and that explains everything.

I saw a lot of people at the Sydney Rd Street Party that I have written about in my old blog. Hi to Joel Gailer, Francisus Henri, Pierre Lloga, all the people at the 696 stall and Pav Art. Pav Art was at the fashion parade. Pav has gone from street to high fashion. And Pav knows how to get noticed; he was carrying his silkscreen stencil of Johnny Depp around as a prop for the parade. His collaboration with Leeana Edward are spectacular, his prints were framed well by Edward’s cut and design. Their striking creations were the clearly the stars of the parade.

As well as the fashion parade, there was a great variety of music from around the world, rock, hip-hop, traditional. “Someone wanted East African music so I put some on.” One DJ remarked. There were food, drinks and the stalls for blocks and more street entertainers from punk tumblers to a black and white medieval juggler. There was a spectacular work of art by Les Futo who created a great spiral mandala out of different coloured old cigarette lighters. It is wonderful when something beautiful is created from rubbish. Les Futo has done this temporary art before at other festivals: “whenever I get the urge,” Les said.

Les Futo's spiral of lighters

My enjoyment of the street party came to an end when I found an idiot had locked his bike to mine. But the full story of that particular idiot will have to be told another time.

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