It’s often said that fashion is a matter of taste. Or is it the other way around and is taste a matter of fashion? To what extend are our preferences and ideas of beauty really our own? And why do models always pose with their mouths open? These were some of the questions that triggered the Remodeling project.
Fashion ads are images made for fast consumption – to be seen by passers-by in busy traffic and to catch the eye of magazine readers they are meant to leave us with desire and longing for the lifestyle they symbolise. Feminine, masculine or androgyne, beauty, passion, strength or fragility and other such generic words linger in our [sub]conscious long after the image is gone. Non-descriptive of content but laden with desire they form our perception of beauty and adjust it accordingly with every new fashion season.
Photographer Anneke Hymmen and art director Kumi Hiroi started their project Remodeling by looking closely at the fashion industry through the images it produces. And they asked others to look with them. Literally. By offering people a stack of magazines and asking them to describe in words a fashion ad that attracted their attention. The collected words, mostly comma separated keywords and abrupt phrases, became their working material. Without seeing the original images they began reconstructing their own, this time visual, interpretations of the descriptions at hand. With a collection of personal perspectives and no limitations of a commercial framework the only world they could rely on was that of their own fantasies and ideas or beauty. The resulting series of images is a double play: an exploration of the way fashion advertisements are created and perceived.
For the second part of the project six writers (Maartje Wortel, Shira Keller, Basje Boer, Jetske van Heemstra, David Pefko and Jonathan Griffioen) will use these images as inspiration for short stories. With word count being their only limitation, they are free to drift away in their imagination and take us along for a ride into the worlds however real or fictional they may be.
The project and its publication consist of three interpretative layers: image descriptions collected by Hymmen and Hiroi, their translations into photographic images and the six written contributions inspired by these visual re-readings.