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International Center of Photography to Open Third Triennial of Photography and Video in October
Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 2007-2008. © Cindy Sherman. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York.

NEW YORK, NY. The International Center of Photography will present Dress Codes: The Third ICP Triennial of Photography and Video, a global survey of today’s most exciting and innovative photography and video art. As ICP’s signature exhibition—and the only one of its kind in America—this year’s Triennial promises to be the most dynamic yet, featuring over 100 recent works by 34 artists from 18 countries. The newly released roster of artists includes such rising stars as Mickalene Thomas, Yto Barrada, Kimsooja, and Thorsten Brinkmann, as well as established artists such as Cindy Sherman, Stan Douglas, and Lorna Simpson. Dress Codes opens to the public on October 2, 2009, at the International Center of Photography (1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street), and remains on view through January 17, 2010.

As with previous ICP Triennials, this year’s exhibition has a thematic focus: fashion. The artists in Dress Codes understand fashion as a form of social communication, and use costume, clothing, and disguise to create a rich visual language filled with specific references to history, culture, gender, and geography. They cast a curious eye on the issues evoked by fashion and the past year’s exhibitions: How do we construct the selves that we show to the rest of the world? How is cultural identity or individuality expressed in an era of global culture? How can clothing, beauty, and style be employed to define community, fabricate fantasies, or signal power? And, in the midst of widespread economic crisis, how do we now regard the aesthetic of excess and high style that pervaded the past decade?

The 2009 Triennial marks the culmination of ICP’s Year of Fashion—a series of groundbreaking exhibitions that explored fashion photography in its widest social and cultural contexts. Following a series of extraordinarily well-received exhibitions of historical and contemporary fashion photography—such as Avedon Fashion 1944–2000, Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, The Condé Nast Years 1923–1937, and Weird Beauty: Fashion Photography Now—Dress Codes shifts the spotlight to image-makers who critically examine fashion’s relationship to art and other social phenomena.

Against this background, the works that have been selected for Dress Codes engage notions of fashion, costume, and personal style in innovative and unexpected ways. The curatorial team responsible for this selection is comprised of Vince Aletti, Kristen Lubben, Christopher Phillips, Carol Squiers, and curatorial assistant Judy Ditner. They will contribute to the exhibition’s wide range of educational materials and programs, including tours, lectures, outreach programs, and an online photo gallery, as well as a fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue published by ICP/Steidl. Bringing together photography and video works in a lively mix, it will underscore the new attention being directed to the relation of still and moving images by many artists today.

Dress Codes Highlights
Valérie Belin’s color portraits of striking but eerily vacant-looking fashion models examine the artifice of the beauty industry. Her unsettling images blur the line between living model and manufactured mannequin.

Clothing becomes a metaphor for concealment in Yto Barrada’s sequence of photographs of an elderly female smuggler who demonstrates how to transport contraband goods into Morocco.

In the online “virtual world” Second Life, Cao Fei’s avatar China Tracy stars in an elaborately costumed high-fashion shoot. Using in-gallery computer stations, museum visitors will be able to explore Cao Fei’s RMB City, an ambitious urban environment built in cyberspace.

Through an array of female characters who race frantically through outfit changes, animation artist Nathalie Djurberg’s New Movements in Fashion looks at the unpredictable ways in which attire shapes individual identity.

In the large-format color tableau Hastings Park, 16 July 1955, Stan Douglas conjures up a crowd of Canadian race-track patrons whose detailed period clothing conveys subtle indications of their working-class status.

Taking an ironic look at the luxury auto industry, Jacqueline Hassink’s video BMW Car Girls follows the interplay of female greeters and male visitors at the exclusive Paris Auto Show.

Kimsooja’s four-channel video installation Mumbai: A Laundry Field is a meditation on the ubiquity of brilliantly hued textiles in the Indian cityscape, and their place in the life of the city.

Culling imagery from fashion, ethnographic, and pornographic magazines, Wangechi Mutu creates elaborate photo-collages that scramble representations of race and gender to question current conventions of beauty.

In her recent multifigure portraits, Cindy Sherman presents aspiring fashionistas whose elaborate attempts at individual style run comically awry.

Lorna Simpson’s newest work, Please remind me of who I am, comprises one hundred black-and-white photobooth images and inkwash drawings, individually framed and arranged in a loose cluster on the wall. The photos depict anonymous African-American subjects from midcentury America who created portraits of themselves using the private mirror of the photobooth.

In his Unbranded series, Hank Willis Thomas searches through decades of print advertisements for clues to the changing public image of African-American life. By removing the typography and other product information from these images, he enables an unexpected vision of race, class, and history to emerge from these commercial photographs.

Mickalene Thomas’s vivid color photographs of African-American women in household settings explore black identity from the 1970s to the present, using exuberant patterns of clothing, wall coverings, and upholstery to suggest a provocative blend of femininity and power.

The stunning life-size portraits in Pinar Yolaçan’s series Maria depict women from Itaparica, an island off the Brazilian coast. These women, ranging in age from twenty-seven to ninety, are shown wearing bizarre but visually stunning garments that the artist, a trained fashion designer, created by ingeniously combining fabrics with gleaming slices of raw meat obtained from local markets.

International Center of Photography | Cindy Sherman | Stan Douglas | Lorna Simpson | Edward Steichen | Condé Nast | Richard Avedon |

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