Femke de Vries explores the interaction between clothing as material objects of use, and fashion as a process of value production. Her exhibition – comprised of text and sound works, collections of fashion garments as well as a website – represents her diverse and in-depth research practice.
The title of the exhibition ‘What to buy for the fashion-focused reader in your life’ speaks to us as a potential customer. However, it is not clothes that are being sold through these words. Taken directly from a fashion magazine, the title portraits a consumption culture where language and fashion are strongly entangled.
Language, or text, is not static. Its use and meaning changes over time. When printed on clothing, words are placed outside the body and thereby turned into a look. Through this transition, these words now gain concrete economic value – language becomes capital. Femke de Vries focuses on contemporary fashion as a system of value production and reflects on the position of fashion within today’s experience economy, and its effect on products, makers and users.
The language that is being explored in this exhibition specifically is that of emotions and self-help promotion. A language that promotes and describes «a better you» – one that fashion industries commonly associate to their products – now becomes materialised and part of the object itself. Through this transition, it is not the object’s functionality or quality of the object that are important, instead the emphasis lays on the emotions it provokes.
In her exhibition, Femke de Vries indicates that the fashion industry not only capitalises on our search for self-betterment and deep emotions, but also designs and commodifies it.
Femke de Vries has a background in Fashion Design and Fashion Strategy (ArtEZ Fashion Masters). In collaboration with Onomatopee she published two books: Fashioning Value – Undressing Ornament (2015, reprint 2018) and Dictionary Dressings (2016). She lectures at various universities (amongst which ArtEZ Fashion Masters, Fashion Strategy) and has developed specialized educational programs in the field of fashion research.
Her research led practice is driven by collaboration and results in works that connect both theory and practice. For this exhibition specifically she has worked closely with Hanka van der Voet, Zuzana Kostelanská, Jonathan Castro, Anouk Beckers, Beatrice Conefrey, Chinouk Filique de Miranda and Eurico Sá Fernandes.
Together with Hanka van der Voet and Elisa van Joolen she founded Warehouse, a place for clothes in context in Amsterdam.