Not in Fashion. Fashion and Photography of the 90s is the title of the new special exhibition at MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst
. As the title already indicates the focus here is not on the glamorous fashion world of the rich and the beautiful. On the contrary, the show at MMK presents an anti-movement that in the 1990s consciously ran counter to the images of prêt-àporter, haute couture and the mainstream fashion magazines. Especially in the first half of the decade, designers, stylists and photographers dedicated themselves to giving fashion strong roots in society not just as an industry with a feeling for the zeitgeist, but as an artistic form of expression and as a politics of the body. Thus, fashion in the 1990s covered substantially more than the latest collections brought out by the in-labels. The pictures in MMK shed light behind the glittering scene of the cat walk. They speak of a feeling for life that is defined by a search for identity, individualism and a personally defined style. And the snapshots, such as those of completely exhausted and seemingly anorexic models, give the viewer a sense of the dark side of the industry.
The exhibition highlights just how radical and innovative the images created by the generation of then 20 to 30-year-old designers and photographers were, and pinpoints what influence they continue to have on the visual arts today. Visitors to MMK can likewise follow the origins of this generation. Our simultaneous presentation from the MMK Collection places the theme addressed in the special exhibition in the over-arching context of contemporary photography. It becomes clear in this context just how strongly the photographers in the Not in Fashion show were influenced by artists such as Larry Clark, Nobuyoshi Araki, Jock Sturges, Beat Streuli or Thomas Ruff all of whom take up central positions in our Collection, explains Dr. Susanne Gaensheimer, Director of the MMK.
Ten photographers who decisively influenced the fashion scene of the 1990s will be presenting their works in the Not in Fashion exhibition:
Corinne Day, who discovered Kate Moss, is present in the form of the photo-story The 3rd Summer of Love which includes the first images of the then 15-year-old Moss, today a supermodel, as well as private shots from her Diary series. Wolfgang Tillmans is showing works originally made in the context of magazines such as i-D or Purple and that are today among the best-known photographs by the multi-award-winning artist. In the portrait series Teenage Precinct Shoppers Nigel Shafran follows young people on a shopping tour and Jason Evans has chosen to display, among others, his legendary series Strictly, which, with its focus on the figure of the dandy, questions social, ethnic and gender divisions.
Cris Moor and Mark Borthwick have made available for the exhibition a series of highly intimate images, with Moor presenting not only some of his famous fashion photographs but also diary-like photospreads; Borthwick has chosen among other things snapshots of well-known models seemingly taken without them noticing. The portrait photographs by US artist Collier Schorr were also taken in a private setting, who shows us an afternoon spent with close friends. Swedish photographer Anders Edström demonstrates that documentation relating to a fashion show can itself become a work of art in its own right. Photographer Jürgen Teller likewise casts a glance behind the scenes of fashion shows held by the famous couturiers, such as Helmut Lang, in the process deconstructing the widespread glorification of the model business. Inez van Lamswerde & Vinoodh Matadin adopt a different stance when back in the 1990s they already made use of the new digital image processing techniques in order to take the image of the perfect body to quite absurd heights.
The multi-faceted presentation in the exhibition relies on some 500 photographs, original materials and a comprehensive events program to highlight how the realms of fashion design, photography and art influence one another.
When devising the exhibition I wanted to emphasize just how large the range of cultural works, forms of artistic expression and positions was, in order to trace the social, cultural and political sensitivities of that era, says Sophie von Olfers, who curated the exhibition. The exhibition thus underscores the changing way the fashion scene saw itself, above all through the medium of magazines such as i-D Magazine, The Face, Six, Visionaire or Purple. A selection of original copies of fashion magazines is on show in the exhibition alongside reproductions of influential photospreads and innovative ad campaigns, by the likes of Jil Sander or Yohji Yamamoto, for example. Graphic designers M/M (Paris), who ever since the 1990s have been making a trailblazing contribution to the worlds of fashion, advertising and magazine design, have kindly compiled this documentary overview on behalf of MMK