Andrea Loest (MFA 2010)
Clothing expresses collective knowledge, a language of signs for which fashion is the vocabulary. My work explores the motivations hidden in the individual arrangement of these signs, and reveals the potential to use the garment in new and exceptional ways. Through projects designed to allow the participant direct interaction with the garment, I make tangible the individual’s personal relationship with each article. These individual explorations generate information that leads to larger investigations into social structures of economy and enterprise.
In my practice, the garment functions as an archive of its own history and cultural significance. Clothing reflects our personal motivations for collecting and arrangement. When I create garments, I focus on how specific elements provide essential clues to individual experience, as well as hidden desires and ambitions. Through experiments with existing garments, collage, and pattern drafting, I strive to discover the ways that the garment connects to the audience, through the actual design, fabric, materiality and utility. In one project, remnants of existing garments are recombined into new parts to make new wholes, while in another, I reconsider conventional rules regarding fit and functionality based on each individual’s interpretation.
Clothing is the tool I use to construct inefficient retail business models that operate through the manipulation of fragmented garment systems. With clothing as the vehicle, my practice has developed a model of critical entrepreneurism, which facilitates functional experiences at sites of purchase and dress. I rely on my former experience as the owner of my own clothing line and producer of large-scale stage performances to help me continue to find alternatives for the placement of my artistic practice. By using mock business models and reinterpreting existing economic systems, new spaces appear for the insertion of artistic interpretation. The storefront installation becomes a stage accessible to various audiences beyond the art community.
I want each experience, which is crafted to challenge the existing models of mass production and consumption, to reflect its own system of economics that explores cultural values of comfort, desire, and luxury. Therefore, inefficiency is a key component in my practice; I make a complex retail experience that slows the indifferent momentum of the consumer by offering an exchange of information and knowledge. I see my work as part of an anthropologic, artistic conversation about clothing and identity. Through my research and projects, others can experience the garment’s social significance beyond its dismissal as superfluous fashion.