Body Space explores the use and representation of clothing in contemporary art, and investigates the relationship between dress and personal identity, including ideas around gender, sexuality, normalcy, culture, status, and revelation versus concealment, as well as dress used as an extension of the body or psyche.
Whereas the use of clothing in art became popular in the late sixties and early seventies with the rise of feminism and the Women's Movement, today, its representation explores broader notions around personal identity. Susie MacMurray and Rhian Solomon explore the weight of guilt and external pressure put upon women to conform to an ideal body shape and weight. Susan Stockwell explores British identity through the use of stained paper dress making patterns, coffee filters, maps and tissue to form dresses. Clothing as a means of conformity is explored in the work of Stephen Craighill, and Suzanne Langston-Jones explores how clothing, on and off the body, is used to create illusions and narratives, her garments conjuring up childhood fairy stories and fantasies.
A highlight of the exhibition is the high definition digital video, 'Un Ballo in Maschera' (A Masked Ball) by the Turner Prize nominated artist, Yinka Shonibare MBE. Shonibare's first film, 'Un Ballo in Maschera' presents the assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden in 1792 through dance. In it, costume is used to highlight the ambiguity of identity and gender.
The exhibition also presents garments from the Tullie House collection, including corsets, crinolines and bustles: clothing designed to sculpt the body into the desired shape of the time.
Body Space is a Tullie House exhibition.
It is supported by Arts Council England North West through Grants for the Arts.