The exhibition “Otherworldly: Performance, Costume and Difference,” which I co-curated with Charlene K. Lau, is currently on view at Parsons’s Aronson Gallery at 66 Fifth Avenue. The exhibition brings together costume and documentation of performances by Machine Dazzle, Narcissister and Rammellzee.
The opening reception is Thursday, November 21st, 6-8pm. The exhibition is part of the Performa 19 Biennial and was made possible with generous support from the Coby Foundation, the School of Art and Design History and Theory, the MA Fashion Studies and the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center.
“Otherworldly: Performance, Costume and Difference” examines the political work at the intersections of costume, fashion and performance produced by three artists: Machine Dazzle, Narcissister and Rammellzee.
These New York-based artists work and have worked at the convergence of disciplines, giving birth to new personas through the act of extreme self-fashioning, masking and renaming themselves. The alternative worlds they have created collapse the division between performance and performativity, art and life, real and make-believe. Their work plays off the notion of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), in which disciplinary borders between fashion, art, performance, theater, dance and music merge to generate a unitary work. Such collaboration is a visual manifestation of politically- and socially-engaged practice, where difference—whether cultural, racial, gender, sexual or otherwise—is upheld. The artists in this exhibition construct their own worlds whereby they can realize and negotiate non-normative identities and perform Otherness. In this sense, “world-making” is political and presents alternatives and possibilities for new utopias.