Malgorzata Markiewicz var Paths Crossing-resident på FABRIKKEN i november 2011. Her viste hun udstillingen "Wearable Nations".
For her solo exhibition "Wearable Nations" at The Factory of Art and Design, Malgorzata Markiewicz presented a new take on the national costume. The artist had created a new series of outfits for citizens of the EU countries, each design paying tribute to the differences between the states and populations of Europe.
Markiewicz’s printed textiles deploy the minimalist shorthand of the pictogram, redesigning the letters E & U. The clothing template is also simple – unisex, unifabric, no frills. Where each outfit differs, is in its complex, abstract textile design – a visual language that dismantles linguistic barriers.
The meaning of clothing is a recurring theme in Markiewicz’s work. Unlike the transient, disposable culture of fashion, clothes can be seen to weave the fabric of memory. As the historian Philippe Perrot writes, clothes are comparable with language – a complex structure of meaning and syntax generated in social and geographical space.
Traditional European national costumes are no longer in everyday use. Most of us probably only remember them from the small dolls that populated airports and children’s rooms like tiny envoys from foreign countries. But looking at Europeans today, can we really distinguish a Dane from a Dutchman or a Pole from a Swede by their clothing?
The abolition of trade barriers in the EU has brought multinational retail outlets like H&M and Topshop to the high streets of most European cities: Off-the-rack continental uniformity masquerading as free-market choice. As the artist herself says:
“On a trip to Slovenia I met a person wearing exactly the same outfit as me. The same thing happened in Finland. Does this mean that we are all Europeans now? We can’t identify nation through clothing anymore.”
Markiewicz’s new national costumes can be seen as resisting this visual standardisation – the increasing uniformity that threatens to disguise the differences between us:
“The more homogenous you try to make people, the more they will resist. We may look the same, but we’re not – and that’s no bad thing.”
Wearable Nations – European Outfits
Curator: Maria Gry Bregnbak
Translated by Jane Rowley