Disobedient Bodies: JW Anderson curates The Hepworth Wakefield

The Hepworth Wakefield

Curated by fashion designer Jonathan Anderson, Disobedient Bodies responds to and collaborates with Wakefield’s significant collection of modern British art

The exhibition
As his starting point for the exhibition, Anderson was drawn to early works by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore from the 1920s and 1930s that represented the human body in radical new ways. These increasingly abstracted, yet still defiantly figurative, sculptures - 'disobedient bodies', as Anderson describes them - have led to an exhibition exploring how the human form has been reimagined over the course of the last century.

'I don’t believe in being provocative purely for the sake of it, but without some disobedience you’ll never arrive at anything new.'

'Early on, very obvious themes or ideas started to emerge, so for example, formal motifs like line, colour or silhouette, which then gradually branched out into wider themes, such as classicism or the grotesque or the question of gender.'

'There are some designers, like Rei Kawakubo, whose garments operate as sculpture in themselves, as well as being something that can be worn; others, like Christian Dior or Madame Grès, are clearly more rooted in classical languages of fashion, yet their harnessing of material and form is no less revolutionary.'

'One of the great images that came out of our conversations about the logic of the exhibition layout was to use the analogy of a cocktail party, where individuals who do not necessarily know each other meet and interact.'

'I knew that I wanted to include a series of Helmut Lang’s line pieces from his Spring/Summer 2003 collection. Lang is a genius. His tackling of form was always subtle, understated but so precise. When I look at these pieces I immediately think of Giacometti’s sculptures, completely reduced to line.'

'Ceramics have traditionally been separated from the visual arts into the realm of craft, and their association with the domestic sphere is particularly strong. In Disobedient Bodies they sit together in the same room, or on the same page; They probably wouldn't in any other context. Similarly, when you see the incredible body-like forms of Magdalene Odundo's vessels, the work talks directly to the organic lines of a Jean Arp.'

'In general the process has been about disregarding the obvious characteristics of these objects and finding new ways to look at them. It has been about how things communicate with each other in the present moment, in 2017.'

A New Kind of Fashion Exhibition
'I usually hate fashion exhibitions. Everything looks dead or becomes an artifact. With the mannequin you get trapped by this idea of the fake body, or worse, the generic body'

'Disobedient Bodies was never going to be an academic project. It was always going to be more chaotic, or more social even.'

'Disobedient Bodies unfolds across a series of curtained rooms made from old stock JW Anderson fabrics. The fabric softens everything, but the curtain itself also embodies this idea of the reveal, of something being opened up.'

'Even certain details of the display, using simple t-stands rather than busts where possible, were designed to move away from the sense of window dressing, which often happens in exhibitions. That’s the opposite of how I wanted this exhibition and book to feel.'

'Architects, designers, curators all think in different ways, see things in different ways, and the making of Disobedient Bodies has in many ways required us all to be somewhat disobedient towards our respective disciplines; it’s a puzzle into which we have all had to find out where we fit.'

'It’s a personal edit, but I’m hoping that people come away with this idea that everything can be looked at from an alternative viewpoint, everything can be made new again, and that things not working together can be as productive and creative as things that we take as being instinctively right.'

JW Anderson 28 Jumpers
'Hepworth wanted her work to be touched. Ultimately in fashion it’s about wearing a garment so the knowledge of piece is a tactile knowledge. Knitwear is central to what I do. In the JWA SS17 menswear show we made these elongated jumpers in combination knit. I love both the absurdity and naivety of a piece like this, and it has an inherent sense of playfulness that I wanted to inject into Disobedient Bodies.'

Photographs by Jamie Hawkesworth of pupils from three Yorkshire schools - Wakefield College, Cundall Manor and Hemsworth Academy - wearing garments from the exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield.

Credits: Story

Disobedient Bodies: JW Anderson curates The Hepworth Wakefield
18 March - 18 June 2017

Special thanks to JW Anderson and his team, 6a architects and OK:RM for the realisation of this project

Exhibition supported by
Litestructures
The Block

Logistics partners
Mtec

Grand Central Rail is The Hepworth Wakefield's travel partner

Exhibit created by
The Hepworth Wakefield staff
Special thanks to Iheanyichukwu Onwuegbucha
Photography by Lewis Ronald

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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