The Feminist Architecture Collaborative—Virginia Black, Gabrielle Printz, and Rosana Elkhatib—is “interested in designed ways of being: a woman, a citizen, a patient, a pile of compost. They approach these states as unstable constitutions, taking inventory of the matter and media that condition life under the law, capital, and a protracted hetero-patriarchy. What are the interceding artifacts, devices, and scripts that allow for survival under—and subversion of—such truly busted circumstances? Can we configure other realities from this mess with sharper critique and greater care?”
f-architecture has “sought something truer in fakeness, indulging in its delights (eyelash extensions, fake IDs and fan-fic) while also demanding closer scrutiny of the definitive measures that reify more powerful myths (the nation and how we belong to it, for instance). Self-authorizing identity documents, virginity simulations, and reconstructions of the clinic interior are among the objects of f-architecture s practice in reproduction. “
This week, f-architecture will give a talk at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “illuminating several recent projects that center embodied experience and demonstrate ways of working through feminist critique.”
I’m not talented. Wee Gee was a real photographer… I’m lightweight stuff… I think of myself as a fashion historian… [Street photographer] Harold Chapman was the biggest influence on me… He taught me to be invisible. “Stop waving that camera around like a fan,” was his expression…
I’m strictly interested in the way women dress in their own lives. — Bill Cunningham*
Cunningham—New York City’s greatest postwar documentarian of street style—was incredibly self-deprecating, claiming that his New York Times colleagues dismissed his regular columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours” as “filling around the edges of the ads.”
Arriving in New York in 1949 at age 19, Cunningham went to work as a milliner at Bonwit Teller and the high-end boutique Chez Ninon, where Jacqueline Kennedy and Babe Paley shopped for line-for-line copies of couture originals. While Ninon’s proprietors valued his contribution, they did their best to push him away from fashion and into “straight” journalism—above all keeping him away from Diana Vreeland, fearing the eccentric editor would irrevocably seduce/corrupt the impressionable young man.
(Of course, Cunningham and Vreeland eventually met, and the photographer went on to document nearly every show the doyenne of fashion staged at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute.)
In the new documentary THE TIMES OF BILL CUNNINGHAM—directed by Mark Bozek, and constructed around a long on-camera interview he shot with the photographer in 1994—Cunningham tells his tale: making hats under the name “William J,” sharing a loft at the Carnegie Hall studios with Bobby Short, Marlon Brando, and Norman Mailer, decamping to Paris for the shows during his U.S. Army stint in Rochefort-sur-Mer.
In the early 1960s, Cunningham wrote a column for John Fairchild’s Womens Wear Daily, and in 1967 was given a small Olympus-Pen by David Montgomery, who worked with Antonio Lopez. A Cunningham street photo of Greta Garbo was published in the Times in 1978, and his career at the paper began.
The year of the film’s interview is key. 1994 was at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and several times during the second half of the film, Cunningham breaks down in anguish at the loss of loved ones, including Lopez and his partner Juan Ramos.
On April 2, Raf Simons will join the Prada brand as co-creative director, working in partnership with Miuccia Prada with equal responsibilities for creative input and decision-making. The first Prada collection designed by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons will be the Spring/Summer 2021 womenswear show, presented in Milan in September 2020.
This partnership, encompassing all creative facets of the Prada label, is born from a deep reciprocal respect and from an open conversation—it is a mutual decision, proposed and determined by both parties. It opens a new dialogue, between designers widely acknowledged as two of the most important and influential of today. Conceptually, it is also a new approach to the very definition of creative direction for a fashion brand—a strong challenge to the idea of singularity of creative authorship, whilst also a bold reinforcement of the importance and power of creativity in a shifting cultural landscape.
As times change, so should creativity. The synergy of this partnership is far-reaching. It is a reaction to the era in which we live—an epoch with fresh possibilities, permitting a different point of view and approach to established methodologies. It can also be seen as the first step towards broader scopes of interaction—an initiation of free exchange and collaboration, a questioning of creative conventions.
Innovation is an inherent facet of the identity of Prada: a willingness to push boundaries, to experiment, to take opportunities to advance. If the notion of a partnership is to work jointly, the result of that conversation may not only be product but also the propagation of a thought and a culture. A pure vision of creativity, with the product a vehicle for these thoughts.
The distinct values and ethos of the Prada brand remain unchanged: this radical creative dialogue, indeed, is a reiteration of the philosophies of both Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. It is perfectly in tune with each designer’s individual history of reinvention, provocation, brave exploration, and the power of ideas—now, brought together. — Prada
Suzanne Lacy will give the Zabar Visiting Artist Lecture this month at Hunter College.
Lacy is “internationally renowned as a pioneer in the field of socially engaged and public art. Her installations, videos, and performances have dealt with issues of sexual violence, rural and urban poverty, incarceration, gender identity, labor, and aging.”*
Don’t call it a comeback, but New York City’s irreverent theater troupe Vampire Cowboys are back with REVENGE SONG, a scorched-earth musical farce set—mostly—in seventeenth-century France.
Julie d’Aubigny—a queer, cross-dressing swordswoman—and her band of lovers and adversaries turn the sarcasm up to ten in this unexpected Geffen Playhouse diversion written by Qui Nguyen and directed by Robert Ross Parker.
“Satire is what closes on Saturday night,” opined playwright and wit George S. Kaufman, but Cowboys co-founder Nguyen concocts a hilarious mix of aggression and buffoonery, scored with contemporary hip-hop and 1980s-style power ballads. The brilliant comedic timing of Margaret Odette (Julie) and Amy Kim Waschke (as MC Madame de Senneterre) bring these hardcore heroines to raucous life.