Italian artist Antonio Riello has created a series of unique outfits to be worn by the staff of BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art as an innovative exhibition for Spring 2009. This artistic intervention goes beyond the mere exhibition spaces of the gallery, moving into places not usually seen by the public with front of house, office staff and directors all taking part.
The outfits at first glance appear to be a uniform created from a unique tartan however this choice of cloth is being used as a symbol or device to examine the ideas of belonging and identity. The work is also free from the restraints of locality as it doesn't use the principal gallery spaces; the artist has been given the freedom to infiltrate locations and situations throughout the entire building, with manifestations of his work spilling out into meetings, discussions and staff recreational areas as well as all public spaces.
Central to the design is a Tartan created for the European Union in 1999 which uses the dominant colours of blue and yellow of the European flag, red as the colour of attachment and white representing peace and non-violence. By introducing a series of deliberate glitches into the weave he creates a sense of ambiguous disorder commenting on the artificial construction of European identity.
The designs have been greatly influenced by Riello's impression of BALTIC capturing its contemporary look and feel to create a range with a distinctive modern style with trousers and skirts in B.Square! tartan; These will be accessorised by black and white reversible hooded jackets influenced by the black and white of the Northumbrian Tartan; the only English country to have its own traditional Plaid. The reversible jackets are equipped with special pockets and straps designed for day to day activities in the gallery developing the idea of a new workwear for a new workforce at this landmark industrial building. There is even a special torch and integrated L.E.D. device for showing visitors to the cinema space.
To produce this range of clothes, that will be individually tailored for the entire BALTIC staff, Riello has brought together manufacturing and design expertise from across the world; the range is produced by specialist weavers Bonotto Tessuti and taylor's Pespow based in North East Italy, the heart of Italy's traditional clothing manufacturing industry.
B.SQUARE or Be Square will take place in several contemporary art galleries throughout the world. The project was launched in November 2007 at Kunsthalle Wien, Austria and BALTIC will present its second incarnation. Different interpretations will be created for and inspired by each organisation incorporating the original flawed tartan and capturing the various social and cultural backgrounds of each venue.
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