The Concise Dictionary of Dress is probably one of the most fascinating installations on right now in London. Combining two of my favourite topics art and design, this show takes on much more than just aesthetics. Opening today in Blythe House, which was originally built as the headquarters for the Post Office Savings Bank, the imposing monolith has been the working store for the V&A’s reserve collections of furniture, ceramics, glass, jewellery, textiles, fashion and fine arts since 1978. Located within its vast spaces, The Concise Dictionary of Dress begins as you navigate a turnstile, cross a corridor and take the industrial goods lift up to the top floor. A wrought iron staircase leads you out onto the roof towards an exposed cupola containing the first of a sequence of intriguing definitions in a walk-through dictionary of dress. Due to the multi-sensory applications of this installation you are immersed from the very beginning – taking you both physically and mentally to a new dimension.
The Concise Dictionary of Dress is an Artangel and V&A collaboration with psychoanalyst, Adam Phillips, and costume curator, Judith Clark. The installation re-describes dress in terms of anxiety, wish and desire, presented as a series of eleven definitions and accompanied displays. Cast objects and photographs, tableaux of clothing and accessories are arranged amongst the rolling racks and wrapped objects stored at Blythe House. During an hour-long guided journey through the building, visitors encounter the installations and their associated written ‘definitions’ from a dictionary created by Adam Phillips.
As your path winds through this hidden history of art and design, the anatomy of the building reveals surreal and evocative interventions in unexpected places; metaphors of repression, ceremony and desire; intriguing traces of the human form, and fragments of the clothed body briefly glimpsed.The Concise Dictionary of Dress also manifests in an illustrated 128-page book published by Violette Editions. The publication features specially commissioned photography by Norbert Schoerner (£15).
For tickets and further information visit www.artangel.org.uk. The installation continues until 27 June.
To read about another ArtAngel commission with Catherine Yass, featured in Aesthetica, please CLICK HERE.
Images by Julian Abrams.