Still Undead (21 September 2019–12 January 2020) explores how Bauhaus ideas and teaching lived on in Britain, via pop culture and art schools. This exhibition coincides with the centenary of the pioneering art and design school’s founding in Weimar.
Spanning the 1920s to the 90s, and including works by some 50 artists, designers and musicians, Still Undead narrates the eclectic and fragmented ways that the Bauhaus’s legacy has been transmitted and transformed. It is structured around six loosely chronological groupings, which move from the Bauhaus to British art schools, from the high street to the nightclub and beyond.
Stephen Willats' Multiple Clothing – New Directions, 1991, consists of 12 plastic panels with transparent pockets. There are two tops, so a dress, jacket or coat can be made up as the sides of each panels are edged with zips so that any combination of colour and design can be put together. A set of printed cards – each with a word expressing a wide variety of psychological states and identities – are provided so the wearer can create phrases or words to express any message they want to.
Writing about the work, Willats states:
‘I consider clothing as an important area of strategy in art, as a territory of expression that takes the artist right into the realm of reality that is very much a parameter to people’s experience of society. So the works I have developed as clothing are made to be worn, though there is a clear difference for the wearer with the clothes they might normally wear, so that the act of wearing my clothes differentiates the experience from normality in the surrounding world. My intention is that in wearing one of these clothes you yourself become an integral manifestation of the work, and your internalization of the meaning of the work is through that act of wearing it, and subsequently what happens to you as a result. The works alter your interpersonal relationship with the other people you come into contact with, and alter their relationship with you…..’
Multiple Clothing, Designs 1965 – 1999, Stephen Willats, Walther König, Cologne, 2000
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Image: Stephen Willats, Multiple Clothing – New Directions, 1992
© Stephen Willats