Our social settings sanction religious belief. We seek individual meaning through existential questions to which religion offers answers and comfort. Can similar vein be seen when we seek social and spiritual salvation through fashion? What happens when fashion and religion collide? To many, fashion is religion. It demands a stern system of faith and belief. Aren’t religious practices and the rituals of a catwalk performed in similar sequestered places, in comparative set sequence? Here, Holy Chic offers some thought provoking views on the interchange between fashion and religion. Installation artist WESSIELING paired devotional quotes collected from parishioners with popular fashion language. The results could not be more telling. Attention is drawn immediately to the enlarged text of I Am the Bread of Life Vs I Am the New Black on the pillars of the magnificent Saint Dominic’s Priory. The work is entitled to “A Heel Came Real”, which, will only reveal when read horizontally through the interlined of gold characters. On the sidewall are a series of gold plates with fashion language and biblical quotes etched on. What portent can be greater than placing ‘The Ultimate Bag Guide’ and ‘The Mystery of Faith’ in a church? The extenuated irony sees the juxtaposition of the text-work with the journey of the crucifixion. Rarely would religious sculptures in a church be studied or examined, the artwork engages with them in a playful yet stimulating dialogue. The installation interweaves into Saint Dominic’s setting as if it has always been a part of it. The choice of colour synchronises harmoniously with the church’s tonal system. Fashion has meticulously assimilated to the religious norms. Presented in this context, fashion is taken as an idea, a resource, an immaterial property and a soft power all of which are at heart of WESSIELING’s work. Text and installation are the artist’s major medium, who has, in previous occasions, ‘made’ poems using fashion advertising slogans.
This event is part of The Late Shows 2016 in Newcastle upon Tyne (http://thelateshows.org.uk/2016/st-dominics-priory) and sponored by the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.
WESSIELING’s work concerns the aestheticisation of the everyday through the lens of fashion. Her practice uses text and installation to create work that addresses the cultural property and soft power of fashion. A trained cultural historian, she studied fine art in Central Saint Martin College of Art and Design (London). Draw on her dual role as an artist and academic researcher, her visual art practice spins off her inquiry of the (in)tangible assets of fashion, consumption, globalisation, (post-)colonalism, cultural hybridity and authenticity. Works were exhibited in OVADA (2015, UK: Oxford), Danson House (2013, UK: Bexleyheath Trust), Brunei Gallery (2012, London: SOAS), Saltram House (2012, Plymouth: National Trust), Victoria & Albert Museum (2011, London) among others. www.WESSIELING.com