The Exquisite Corpse Project: Collaborative Garment Design
Today's sweater is a rare and special bird. Last Fall I was given the opportunity to produce an art-sweater for ESOPUS magazine -- a very special publication that is produced by the ESOPUS foundation here in New York (read more about the ESOPUS Foundation here). I spun my wheels on this project for quite a while trying to think of a way of incorporating knitting into the publication in a fresh and interesting way. After enduring a long creative void, I found myself thinking about the Exquisite Corpse process-drawings that were done by Surrealists in the 1920's
The Exquisite Corpse is a collaborative process in which multiple artists create a single image (typically the human figure) in sequence with one another. Each artist is permitted only a glimpse at the contribution of the previous artist without knowing its connection to the whole. The imaginative drawings that are created in this way are spontaneous, random, and very interesting.
With this process in mind came the spark of an idea for a design experiment that resulted in the sweater you see photographed here.
I got in contact with a few of my favorite indie-designers to see if they were up for a design challenge: to create a collaborative garment in random sequence working directly off of the piece or pieces that were presented to them from the previous designer. Starting with a general set of garment dimensions provided by me (so that the garment would fit the body at the conclusion of the process) each designer was given complete creative freedom for their portion of the sweater.
I chose a bulky, rustic sheepswool in hopes that the materials would inspire textural experimentation and highlight the multi-directional quality of the fabrics. As you can see from the images, the garment is a veritable explosion of texture!
Below is a schematic of the finished garment, a Dolman cardigan, and how each designers contribution comes together to create the finished whole.
It was a wonderful experiment and created a garment that I find interesting for so many reasons. The magazine is accompanied by a gallery show in which all pieces from the current issue are on view at the ESOPUS space in New York. For those readers who are local, click here for the show information if you'd like to see the physical garment on view at the gallery.
I want to give a special thank you to all the designers who joined me to put this together as well as my lovely model (does she look familiar? Yes, that's famed Cookie A. looking fierce).
The garment is a true one-of-a-kind and the result of each designers immediate response to the garment pieces as they were presented to them. I hope you enjoy it!