Commencing the beginning of the 10 weeks to complete my Final Major Project for my Art Foundation Course, I had to come up with the concept of my project. We were given complete free reign to go in any direction we wanted, contrasting with previous assignments where the brief was decided by our tutors. By determining our own brief, we were able to really play on our strengths and choose a topic which will keep us interested for the next 10 weeks. Although this freedom of choice is good, there is also a lot of pressure which comes with making the decision yourself, as there is no where else to place the blame if it transpires into a project you personally don’t like.
I knew I wanted to produce a fashion publication, as this was the direction I would like to pursue at university, (I am currently applying for fashion communication courses). However I wanted to choose a more specific theme for the publication, one that would allow me to critically challenge the industry, this brought death as an idea. An explanation of this theme is demonstrated below for my Project Concept;
For my Final Major Project I have decided to produce a publication exploring the relationship between Fashion and Death. Although initially these two subjects may seem to have little in common, they actually intertwine in many aspects, such as the death of animals in the fur and leather industry, female death in advertising, fatality caused by body image issues, and the significance of clothes after death, such as the way corpses are dressed or the value we place on black formal wear for funerals. The Italian poet, philosopher and essayist Giacomo Leopardi produced a dialogue between Fashion and Death in 1824, within which ‘fashion’ claims herself and Death ‘both equally profit by the incessant change and destruction of things’. This illustrates that the connection between Fashion and Death has been acknowledged and explored before, however in modern society there are increasing ways that the two unite. Contemporary Fashion designers often take inspiration from the morbid, such as Alexander Mcqueen’s dark imagery of skulls and the blood red lining of his graduate collection inspired by Jack the Ripper, or Rei Kawakubo in her ‘Ceremony of Separation’ collection for Comme Des Garçons, which moved some of the audience to tears due to the emotionally charged connotations of loss. In addition to designers I will also take inspiration from photographers such as Tim Walker who often combines death-like imagery and fashion to create surreal and compelling photographs. Due to time limitations I will have to refine the areas of Death and Fashion that I would like to explore and feature within the publication, however this decision will be made after completing research into various topics before clarifying the specifics. I will explore the relationship between fashion and death through photography and articles, aiming to subvert the view of fashion as glamorous and frivolous. I feel it is a topical area which I am extremely interested in and is a broad enough subject to maintain my attention and enthusiasm throughout the ten weeks.
Before we could begin the research for our initial ideas, we were hit with a bit of a setback. We were given a new brief to produce a piece of work by Friday, to be exhibited at The Island the following week. The project was called Aleatory and was intended to be based on our Final Major Project theme. Seeing as my Central St Martins interview was that Wednesday and I still had a lot of interview and portfolio preparation to do, this came as the most dismay to me. However after procrastinating majorly on the Monday, scrolling through Pinterest and the CSM website, I managed to get my act together on Tuesday. I decided that I could not produce a piece of work that was up to par with everyone else due to my time limitations, so I would create a photo montage as a quick visual response to my project theme; the relationship between fashion and death.
Therefore to create the montage I photocopied any images that appeared interesting from various fashion magazines and National Geographics that I found in the library. I wanted to create an image influenced by the phrase ‘One day I’ll be covered in flowers’, something one of my friends wrote on Facebook in reference to her new floral tattoo. Although it may not sound significant, when I read it I felt it immediately could reference death, so I noted it before I could forget it. I felt it could reference the flowers we lay down on graves to commemorate the dead, and yet link with the florals so often featured in fashion. All of this transpired to create the image below.
Unfortunately this will not be the image exhibited. The exhibition required the image to be square in format and I did not have time to enhance the colours as seen here, as I had to complete the piece before my interview on Wednesday. However if I had a few more days and less restrictions this would be the image I would have displayed.
Although I created this image with little thought I think subconsciously my thoughts came out to produce the final image. My interpretation of the image is a young figure dressed in black to link with mourning, slowly being shrouded in bright flowers from loved ones, perhaps showing the beauty in death. The figure of the child wearing the white dress could perhaps represent the innocence that is preserved when one dies young, a child like spirit or soul that remains after the body has decayed.
Overall, the first week of my Final Major Project has been a success and I hope progress continues over the next ten weeks. Next week I hope to continue research into my chosen topic and perhaps begin sourcing props and locations for photography shoots.
The Aleatory exhibition will be held from the 28th March to 1st of April everyday from 11-5pm at The Island, 1st floor, Bridewell Street, Bristol BS12LE.