an installation created by Helmut Lang for the exhibition "Avstrija davaj" in Moscow, courtesy of MAK

... to give you a short wrap-up of the important facts: Vienna's Museum of Applied Arts MAK scheduled a huge HELMUT LANG retrospective due to open later this year. Remarkable. Some days ago, on the occasion of an exhibition opening in Moscow where Mr Lang's work (as a sculptor!) was on show - the exhibition was also organised by Vienna's MAK - the former fashion designer made a public statement that he would like the aforementioned Viennese show to be cancelled. Background information: MAK's long-standing and far from undisputed director Peter Noever was forced to step down earlier this year after allegations concerning the fraudulous use of museum funds. So far for the facts.

installation view, courtesy of MAK

Now, I think this episode points towards two notable facts, different facets of the same story. First off, Mr. Lang, who has recently been dedicating his creative drive solely to art and gave up fashion in the mid-noughties, will hitherto cease to rank as Austria's "most important and/or best-known" fashion designer, a perception still upheld by numerous commentators (one possible reason: every other fashion journalist and/or professional active in Vienna in the 80s and 90s claims to having "made" Mr. Lang - Vienna is a small place, and whenever, unlikely though it is, it produces a design star, this event has to be celebrated...) and one that does not coincide with Mr. Lang's vision for himself and his future. Furthermore, if it's finally time to bid Mr Lang goodbye, this would be a good opportunity to be realistic and admit that, where it comes to GLOBAL FASHION FAME, Vienna has probably had its five minutes within an ever-changing fashion system that has undergone radical acceleration even since the heyday of Mr Lang's label. So that's that.

the exhibition created to be a "creative summit", definitely more artsy than design-y...

And second, isn't it all too characteristic of the work of the museum's parting director Peter Noever that not Helmut Lang, the fashion designer could have made it into the sacred halls of this renowned institution dedicated to the APPLIED arts (yes, ladies and gentlemen, for we've got our contemporary art museums, and enough of them), but Helmut Lang, the sculptor. No more comment is needed, I think, beause all has been said about Peter Noever's abilities as a polarizing exhibition maker. Still, as we're looking towards a new era at MAK, which will be taken over by Christoph Thun-Hohenstein later this year, I think it would be beautiful to see fashion and design exhibitions on the museum's main floors and not in the basement, where they have been relegated more often than not until now (do please note that the city's most remarkable and fashion exhibitions in the past few years have taken place in other museums than MAK!).

Apart from that, why should the MAK, located in the building adjacent to Vienna's University of Applied Arts and therefore closely linked to a tradition of design and workmanship that goes back to Wiener Werkstätte and beyond, voluntarily give up its potential position as a notable spot for fashion and design exhibitions and leave it to, say, the Freiraum premises of quartier21? That doesn't make much sense, does it? And it's not like there wouldn't be work to display, from Vienna's fashionable past, for it is possible to look further back than to the 1980s, as it is equally possible to display the work of designers who do not lead a double life as artists and who are part of Vienna's contemporary fashion scene. Taking that into account, and respecting the obligations (!) of an institution dedicated to applied and decorative arts, it should be possible to exhibit other things than gigantic installations made of mud and wood created by a man formerly known as fashion designer ...

Aucun commentaire: