‘DISown’ Forsakes the White Box for Retail Diffusion
Diffusion lines have been an enduring fixture of the fashion industry, but with the proliferation of profitable designer collaborations with Target and H&M, it was only a matter of time before artists tapped into the fertile realm of affordable luxury. At the helm of diffusion art is “DISown,” an exhibition curated by New York-based art collective DIS and Agatha Wara that poses as a retail store.
The art object has reemerged in recent years, finding a home online in marketplaces like Etsy, where “DISown” contributing artist Brad Troemel (Jogging) sells a number of his works, and in exhibitions such as the Magritte-inspired “This is Not a Toy” at Toronto’s Design Exchange. Despite the DISsemination of Duchampian consciousness, the “DISown” exhibition stands apart. It transforms Red Bull Studios into a consumer playground, a Chuck E. Cheese’s-meets-IKEA replete with DISown-branded plastic tote bags. Wal-Mart blue netting crisscrosses the Chelsea project space, forming a jungle gym display rack that weaves the exhibition together. All that was missing at the March 6th opening were underpaid vest-clad “people greeters.”
DIScomfort is key in the exhibition’s home furnishings department, which boasts Jon Rafman’s Emma Watson body pillows and a six-foot bean bag chair by Bjarne Melgaard. Even the Jogging’s houseplants are snug—the pots wrapped in neon whistleblower beanies. Other foliage, namely kale, romaine, and chard, appears more sterile, placed in Hood By Air (HBA) salad bowls for the cleanse-prone dilettante. Inverted yoga mats by Nicola Fernandez flank the shelf of HBA tableware. The mats’ figures inspire serenity and are complimented by Nick DeMarco’s “Waterfall” bathroom tissue, straight from the pages of the Tao Te Toilet. Your third eye is sure to be awakened and maybe even your fifth with the help of Daniel Keller’s “FiVI (five eye)” baseball cap. On the ground, visitors tread on Dora Budor’s carpet printed with scuffs and the detritus of devices years past.
The “DISown” clothing department provides the optimum conditions for endorphin-driven retail therapy. Floor decals invite visitors to ascend the climbing wall plastered with one of DIS’ distinctive stock photos. The clothes are not only relevant, reflecting sportswear’s current fashion reign; they also provide the perfect wardrobe for the socially conscious urban athlete. Marxist runners can finally shed their burlap and exercise proudly, sporting DIS’ breathable “Žižek tech fit” tops. Those with DIY inclinations will fall head over heels for the hand-painted Adidas tracksuit. More radical looks include Korakrit Arunanondchai’s “BANGKOKBOYS” sweatpants and sweatshirt, which pair the familiarity of denim with the rebelliousness of self-immolation.
Guests at the opening included “DISown” artists Ryan Trecartin, Telfar Clemens, Lizzie Fitch, Emily Segal and Sean Monahan of K-HOLE, as well as Nanu Al-Hamad, Abdullah Al-Matairi, and Fatima Al Qadiri of GCC, an artist “delegation” with an upcoming retrospective at MoMA PS1. The Claw, a collaborative group of Fade to Mind artists including Kingdom, Total Freedom, and Nguzunguzu, closed the exuberant opening with a live performance. “DISown- Not For Everyone” will continue its music programming with live radio shows on radio.dismagazine.com. The exhibition is open to the public on weekends through April 6th and features weekly special events. Segal is set to moderate a panel on “Fast Fashion” at the studios on March 15th. While “DISown” may not be for everyone, it offers the public a familiar setting to view and consume contemporary art.
[Photos by Vince Patti]
-Matthew Grumbach, Editor