Every morning when I dress for school, I’m in doubt. I put something on and it’s again the same. I have a couple of outfits I wear a lot and that make me feel safe. Though, everytime I doubt whether it’s good enough. I’m in a school that calls itself an art school and it doesn’t feel like I’m a typical person that belongs in an art school, even though I don’t know if that kind of a person exists. Because of that I feel like I have to proof myself, as if I have to pretend that I’m someone else, wearing clothes that suit art school, but that suit don’t me. I feel too normal, too average, too ‘different’. Too boring. Even when the clothes I wear I really like and I feel comfortable in.
The strange thing is: there isn’t something like a dresscode for an art academy. Everyone wears what they like or what makes them feel good. So no one cares what you’re wearing. Although it feels like everyone has their own unique style, different from everyone, and maybe that could be the dresscode. Being as unique as possible. And if you see it like this, maybe I do fit in.
For me this proves that your identity is for a big part in the hands of the clothes you wear, prejudices exist and people pretend that they know who you are. You can deny that it is like this, and I’m sure that came across your mind, but I think everyone realizes that this is true. Even when you don’t really care about fashion or clothing, it says something about who you are, about your identity. It expresses your culture or subculture. The group you belong to. Fashion is the easiest way to express, to make a statement. And we do, all of us.
Beyond the Body, a perception of appearance and identity : video and publication 2012
Imme van der Haak is an artist who takes identity as an starting point. She says that fashion is, for her, the way to form your identity, to show yourself. But also and mostly to try and be someone else and experience how that is, to step in someones skin and mind. In that way you can undergo an metamorphosis and your clothes can function as an cocoon where in you can undergo that metamorphosis. Also without clothes there is an identity, in scars, hair, birthmarks and surgical adjustments. Our body is an product of nature and a product of science. There are tons of possibilities to give our body a certain form. In the end she says that even without clothes, fashion influences our body. This can come out in tattoos, piercings, the way we cut our hair, but also in the edit on photographs in fashion.
Configurations : Jewelry 2010
She makes works about changing the form of the body. This is shown the best in her work Elastic Mind, where she deforms her face and body with several tools, like elastics, balloons, tights, hairpins and treads. By this she does research to the form of the body, and tries to find new forms, that are not so normal but can be beautiful in a way. It was a research for a jewelry line she made, with really innovative and new jewelry. Also in her video work “Beyond the Body” shown in the exhibition The Future of Fashion is Now, a really beautiful and emotional video is shown, that makes us think about our own identity and how we express that. In the video two people are shown, covered by a transparent piece of fabric with the body of someone else printed on it, and by that they are given a second identity. The shape of the body changes because of the fabric and the picture, which is interesting and typical for Imme, like I said.
Elastic Mind : publication 2010
Another artist that works with deformation of the body as a research for defining identity is Jeanne Dunning. She did kind of similar things, like putting balloons under clothing and creating extra bodyparts, which you can compare to Imme’s work in the video, because there you see two people at a time and by that sometimes there are more arms or legs. She creates surrealistic images as a result, not as a research like Imme does.
Jeanne Dunning : in bed 2004
I think it’s an interesting subject to think about how easily you can change the way you look and by that your identity. You will be the same person from the inside, but a lot changes by how other people see you or how your look makes you feel. It’s something we are busy with everyday.