2010-2014

Monsters in Fashion

ARRRGH! The cry of surprise, fear and worry and also of inner concern, that tries to escape but fails to do so. It is the anger we keep within ourselves for our own lives, for the other – the other with whom we rightly want to communicate, however strange, however different, however much of a monster they may seem.

ARRRGH! is the first multi-dimensional hybrid project of Atopos cvc that has taken shape in the form of exhibitions, publications and performances. Based on an original idea by Vassilis Zidianakis, the ARRRGH! project was first conceived back in 2009 during Atopos’ research on character design in fashion and costume, which initially led to the NOT A TOY book.

The most distinctive facet of the project is the travelling exhibition ‘ARRRGH! Monsters in Fashion’ which was first presented in the Benaki Museum, Athens in 2011. ARRRGH! has been the first international fashion exhibition of monstrous and radical creations, inspired by the phenomenon of ‘character design’. Participating designers and artists drew their inspiration from unrestrained fantasies fed by comics, video games or cartoons and created costumes that were first presented on the catwalk. Along with their costumes and works, a series of commissioned art pieces in the form of videos, sound installations and digital platforms or websites completed Atopos’ visualisation of the most iconic representation of character design in fashion and beyond.

A number of distinguished designers and artists including Walter van Beirendonck, Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens, Issey Miyake/Dai Fujiwara, Bernhard Willhelm, Craig Green, Henrik Vibskov, thepersonwhodidthis, David Curtis-Ring, Boris Hoppek, Jean-Paul Lespagnard, Nasir Mazhar, On Aura Tout Vu, Andrea Crews, Bart Hess, Charlie Le Mindu, Viktor & Rolf, and Maison Martin Margiela among others, have participated in the various stops of the ARRRGH! exhibition with their works and designs. Up to now the exhibition has traveled and has been showcased in Athens (2011, Benaki Museum), Paris (2013, La Gaîté Lyrique), Utrecht (2013, Centraal Museum), making Copenhagen (2014, Gallery int. Fashion Fair Cph) the most recent stop of its exciting and extraordinary journey.

As an aftereffect of its research Atopos cvc published the book Not a Toy: Fashioning Radical Characters (Pictoplasma Publishing, Berlin, 2011), the first comprehensive investigation into the growing influence of today’s character culture in fashion and the arts. This study formed the basis for the whole ARRRGH! project, a thorough look on how established and emerging fashion designers and artists redefine the relationship between body and clothing and the potential of the human figure by questioning our perception of beauty and ugliness.

Additionally, a zine series titled ‘Slaves to Atopos’ was published as part of the ARRRGH! research and was presented in parallel to the exhibitions, performances or events that related to the project. The series consists of collectable limited edition zines, containing original artwork of illustration, collage, photography, drawing and texts by various artists participating in the ARRRGH! project and the Slaves to Atopos zine series. The zines are published on the occasion of exhibitions and performances whereas collaborating artists to the project to date are HOPE, Clo’e Floirat, thepersonwhodidthis, the brainstorm design, George Tourlas, GPO crew, Myron Agios & Freeka Tet and Shoboshobo.

Another collateral artistic outcome of the ARRRGH! project is the Atopic Bodies, a long-term performance project exploring the uncanny, eccentric and unclassified character of the human body in contemporary visual culture. Through collaborations between designers and artists from different backgrounds, new and radical Characters were created by mixing visual and fashion codes. Atopic Bodies treats the body as an eternal atopos while collaborating artists up to now have been Craig Green, Charlie Le Mindu, Anklepants + George Tourlas, Alex Mattsson, Freeka and Shoboshobo.

Questioning what is monstrous and what is beautiful, what is repulsive and what is attractive, Atopos’ research constitutes a thorough and ongoing attempt to define and illustrate contemporary characters in fashion through a variety of media and projects.

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