Friday, February 27, 2009

NYLON, Feb. 09

"I've always thought of the U.S. as the epitome of disposable culture, so I'm proud to alleviate some of that."
-Interview with Deborah Brosenne, founder of the fashion line, Triple 5 Soul

Topshop S/S 09

Western Chic, anyone?

The UK-based store describes its new line with the following text:
"Take a trip to Memphis - America's Deep South - as splatter bleached denim, feather print tunics and slashed tees are infused with ethnic nuances. Pale jeans and oversized dresses are given a hand crafted feel with Mexican style embroidered trims, while cowboy shirts are strewn with stud work. With a nod to Rodeo styling, cropped jackets appear in lilac and marine-blue suede and shrunken waistcoats are adorned with folkloric prints. Leather satchels, studded heels and boots with tasselled laces finish off the Memphis look."

Some try to argue that the fashion world portrays current political affairs, though I sometimes wonder. However, could this collection be an expression of positive feelings for America? Following the election, in terms of being in the UK at least, people seemed to direct a new sort of respect toward Americans. I'm not just saying that - I literally had people tell me that it was ok to be an American after Obama entered the White House. Anyway, while this collection is probably the most stereotypical representation of America, it speaks to traditional American values - the notion of conquering the West and the rest of the country. America was a land of hope for many, though I feel that in general internationally that feeling has subsided over the years. This collection however, seems to echo the early ideas of America as a land of freedom and rebelliousness. Could Topshop's collection be a representation of the re-emergence of America as a revolutionary country that gives hope to other nations? That's probably taking it way too far, and even glorifying the country a little too much, but I can't help but wonder if this new wave of fashion exemplifies the recent growth of positivity toward America, while giving Europeans the opportunity to consume the identity of the other.


Andy Warhol, Brillo Soap Pads Boxes, 1964

plywood boxes with serigraph and acrylic
boxes: 43.2 x 43.2 x 35.6 cm each
Purchased 1967
National Gallery of Canada (no. 15298.1-8)

"I want to be a machine."

Fueled by the New York scene and central to Pop art, Warhol generated his own celebrity as well as massive amounts of artwork. Not only did he produce Brillo at his studio, known as The Factory, but also numerous series of prints, films, and music.

Andy Warhol shocked people with his paintings of Campbell's soup cans, coupled with such provocative statements as: "The reason I'm painting this way is because I want to be a machine." By taking his imagery from advertising and the mass media, Warhol attacked the separation of art from mass culture. Unlike the corrugated cardboard originals represented in "Brillo", these sculptures are made of wood. By making the cartons non-functional and uprooting them from their ordinary context, Warhol forces us to look at them freshly. They comment on the way that commercial packaging transforms a mundane, household product into a glamorous, desirable commodity. Warhol also focuses our attention on the significance of these objects as representatives of the impersonal, commercialized consumer society in which we live.

Source: CyberMuse

Revolutionary Road.

"This is what's unrealistic. It's unrealistic for a man with a fine mind to go on working year after year at a job he can't stand. Coming home to a place he can't stand, to a wife who's equally unable to stand the same things. And you know what the worst part of it is? Our whole existence here is based on this great premise that we're special. That we're superior to the whole thing. But we're not.Look at us. We're just like everyone else. We've bought into the same ridiculous delusion, this idea that you have to settle down and resign from life."

Personally, I loved this film. I thought it really highlighted the true horrors of conformity that accompany suburban life and the hopelessness of the American Dream. Perhaps the idea was over dramatized, but I thought it really brought out a darker side of middle class life that films don't often choose to represent.

An Explanation?

"Could it be that Americans are a restless people, a mobile people, never satisfied with where they are as a matter of selection? The pioneers, the immigrants who peopled the continent, were the restless ones in Europe. The steady rooted ones stayed home and are still there. But every one of us, except the Negroes forced here as slaves, are descended from the restless ones, the wayward ones who were not content to stay at home. Wouldn't it be unusual if we had not inherited this tendency? And the fact is that we have. But that's the short view. What are roots and how long have we had them? If our species has existed for a couple of million years, what is its history? Our remote ancestors followed the game, moved with the food supply, and fled from evil weather, from ice and the changing seasons. Then after millennia beyond thinking they domesticated some animals so that they lived with their food supply. Then of necessity they followed the grass that fed their flocks in endless wanderings. Only when agriculture came into practice - and that's not very long ago in terms of the whole history - did a place achieve meaning and value and permanence. But land is a tangible, and tangibles have a way of getting into few hands. Thus it was that one man wanted ownership of land and at the same time wanted servitude because someone had to work it. Roots were in ownership of land, in tangible and immovable possessions. In this view we are a restless species with a very short history of roots, and those not widely distributed. Perhaps we have overrated roots as a psychic need. Maybe the greater the urge, the deeper and more ancient is the need, the will, the hunger to be somewhere else."

-John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley


"They call it the 'American Dream' because you have to be asleep to believe it."
-George Carlin

Fast Food, Drive-Ins, Cafes.

Ralph Goings, Donuts and Coffee, 2002

"He has drawn our attention to the ordinary everyday experience of American life... showing that there is beauty in the mundane."

McDonald's Pickup 1970

Double Ketchup 1996-1997

Diner, 1982

Safeway Interior, 1974

"My paintings are about light, about the way things look in their environment and especially about how things look painted.
Form, color and space are at the whim of reality, their discovery and organization is the assignment of the realist painter."
-Ralph Goings, 1978

Chevrolet Tailgate, 1983

Coffee Machine, 1991

Cream Pie, 1979

Free Chips, 2004

I would say his work is definitely more focused on iconic images of America, rather than a true sample of American life, but I love it nonetheless. Moreover, as a student abroad, looking at these images comforts me and makes me feel a little at home in an odd way.