Coinciding with New York Fashion Week, Melgaard launches The Casual Pleasure of Disappointment, an unrelenting multi-site, multi-night, culmination of his ongoing ‘fashion’ project. Centered around Red Bull Arts New York, which Melgaard and company have transformed into a multilevel psycho-pathological department store that opens to the public on February 16, Gavin Brown’s enterprise will function as the jewelry department – hosting the American launch of his collaboration with jeweler Bjørg Nordli-Mathisen (BJØRG). The same collaborative jewelry collection made its European debut at the Astrup Fearnley Museum this past November in Oslo.
Produced in collaboration with creative director Babak Radboy, the exhibition will feature a presentation of the eponymous menswear/unisex clothing line, The Casual Pleasure of Disappointment, which violently embraces the obsessive and self-destructive aspects of fashion and consumerism. For Melgaard, fashion is a vague nothing at the intersection of a subject and an object — between inadequacy, self-deceit, victimization, ethical compromise, intellectual humiliation, financial/romantic entanglements and corporeal decay — driven by an infinite cycle of disappointment and desire.
Red Bull Arts New York will be transformed into a derelict department store populated by an army of genetically enhanced mannequins in bespoke looks produced in collaboration with art/fashion stylist Avena Gallagher.
Returning the space to its previous life as the site of the Barneys Co-op, Melgaard’s New York becomes a total environment to facilitate an emotional and physical purge in which the artist will give away —free of charge to the public — the indefensible quantity of designer fashion and high-end streetwear he has amassed over the years.
Debuting as part of New York Fashion Week, Fall/Winter 2017, the launch of the Melgaard brand suggests the retirement of Bjarne Melgaard as a fine artist, abandoning the humiliating context of the exhibition platform for the much worse context of cult streetwear: a market pretending to be a community, pretending to be a violent assault on reproduction.
Melgaard poses Narcotic Anonymous as the ultimate streetwear brand — with its decentralized structure, in which deep individual solidarities, an ideology, a program and a shared experience of trauma crystalize in an ensemble of idiotic symbols and slogans, and form a network of distribution and production uniquely separate from the rest of society. In its place, Melgaard projects an entrée of confessional communities based on his most self-serving and subjective opinions:
A collection of sweats and track jackets devoted to building solidarity between older men of means against the emotional and financial exploitation perpetrated by the young — with slogans like, “The more you pay, the less they care” and “Your Loans, Your Problems.”
An all black collection of threadbare T-shirts and bombers give voice and cause to practicing drug users — against the trite reductionism, self-delusion and anti-emancipatory stupor of 12 step programs.
An orange ensemble of hoodies, flight jackets and T’s revive the militant queer Bash Back movement of the early 2000s — advocating the necessity of armed struggle for queer liberation and rejecting the homonationalism, which has measured progress by the right to marry, have children, serve in the military and work (all institutions which must be destroyed). And other things.