Cecilia Dean on MOVE! A Free, Interactive Fashion & Art Event in New York
A green-screen runway, a custom selfie-patterned DVF wrap dress, a dance for a macaroon, and a chance to look like the opposite gender, are just a few of the fashion-meets-art activities – or “movements” – the public can take part in (for free!) this weekend in New York. From October 2-4, Brookfield Place in downtown Manhattan will be the spot to experience the third installment of MOVE!, an interactive exhibition dreamed up by Visionaire’s Cecilia Dean and writer David Colman. MOVE! teams up fashion designers with contemporary artists to create hands-on, participatory engagements, and was previously staged at MoMA PS1 in 2010 and in Sao Paulo in 2013.
This time around, Dean and Colman paired together Rob Pruitt and Proenza Schouler, Ryan McNamara and Diane Von Furstengerg, Olaf Breuning and Cynthia Rowley, Kate Gilmore and Italo Zucchelli for Calvin Klein Collection, James Kaliardos and Cos Bar featuring YSL cosmetics, and Elana Langer with Le District.
Last week, Whitewall spoke with Dean about what we can look forward to at MOVE!, and about the importance of free, public encounters with art and fashion.
WHITEWALL: This is the third version of MOVE! What did you initially want to create with David Colman?
CECILIA DEAN: This came about because Klaus Biesenbach really wanted to bring fashion to PS1 and was conducting these roundtable sessions with a bunch of people. David and I didn’t know each other, but we come from the fashion world, although we deal a lot with the art world, too. We kept shooting everything down, just being the jaded fashion people that we always are, and then Klaus basically said, “Ok you guys figure it out.”
So David and I came up with this idea that if we wanted to bring fashion and art together it needed to be done in such a way that was all about human energy and it had to be interactive – a real experience versus clothes on a mannequin or art on walls. We introduced a lot of artist to designers and worked closely with the artists on what the concept would be. It was so fun and thrilling because it was nothing like anything we’d ever done before, even though these were two worlds that we felt very comfortable and familiar with. It was a huge success, and tons of people came.
As soon as we did that, over Halloween weekend in 2010, this amazing institute in Sao Paulo, Brazil asked us to do a version for them. Everything was site-specific, we invited Brazilian artists and designers. That was really amazing because it was a much bigger endeavor. We did it for 10 days, which is a long time for something that is so interactive and performance based.
We’d been wanting to bring it back to New York, and when Brookfield Place approached us we jumped at the Chance.
WW: How did the location of Brookfield Place affect what you wanted to do this time around?
CD: It has great arts programming and the Winter Garden is this iconic space in downtown. Something that is quite interesting is that Brookfield Place is a public space, not an art or cultural institution where people are visiting with a certain knowledge or expectation. It is a public place where people are there to maybe eat, go to work, or do some shopping. [With MOVE! in a public setting like that] you totally interfere with people’s normal day, and all of a sudden they are doing a performance art piece, without even knowing it.
David and I are so into that because we feel that art and fashion can be really intimidating. They are very exclusive. Some people may not think they are interested in art and fashion can sometimes really make you feel insecure. I think that David and I really wanted to open fashion and art up and make it fun and more accessible and not so exclusive and closed.
WW: And it’s free, right?
CD: It’s totally free and open to the public. It’s almost like tricking people into doing something, and then you’re like, “You know you were just a part of performance art.” If you’re there and totally innocent, and someone says, “If you learn this dance you get a free macaroon,” you may actually do that, and that’s a performance art piece you were just a part of. I think that’s really fun.
WW: Some of the “movements,” as you call the collaborations with the artists and designers the public participates in, have been done at previous iterations of MOVE! and some are new. Can you tell us a bit more about what we can expect?
CD: We have Ryan McNamara and Dian Von Furstenberg and we had done a collaboration with them in Sao Paulo, but we could only take it so far. So basically you enter into Ryan McNamara’s space, you get quick hair and makeup done, you put on a DVF wrap dress, and then he photographs you in precise poses. Then, instantaneously, someone silhouettes these poses and makes them into a pattern. In Sao Paulo, you could download the pattern online. But at the moment Brookfield came to us, we said, “Let’s take this idea once step further,” and so at Brookfield you can go online and order a DVF wrap dress with your pattern on it. Obviously it talks so much about selfie culture, taking it to apparel and to an art experience. Plus you can actually wear it. We had to do a test to make sure it all worked so I have a DVF wrap dress with a pattern of me. And I am going to wear that to MOVE! and do it again so I could have a wrap dress of me wearing a wrap dress of me wearing a wrap dress [laughs].
WW: Will any of the artists or designers be there?
CD: Ryan works with every single person. He’s a super hands-on artist. There’s also Elana Langer, an artist and social activist. She has an ongoing project now with the French Institute called “Dance Deal,” and it started as a way to promote small businesses, in places likeBrooklyn. You learn a dance, go to certain businesses that sign up, you do the dance, and you get a discount, like at a local coffee shop or something. So we paired her up with Le District, which is high-end French food. For MOVE! she had someone choreograph an easy dance, you learn it, and you can go to Le District, and if you do the dance, you’ll get a special macaroon that they are making just for the dance. You can only eat it if you do the dance. I think it will be really fun. It brings up ideas of bartering and commerce without the use of money. But there is still a lot effort going into it. It just makes you really appreciate that macaroon!
And James Kaliardos, my partner at Visionaire, he’s a world-renowned makeup artist. He’s going to be doing a movement called “Crossover” where men are transformed into women and women are transformed into men. And we decided to do a test on it. You have preconceived notions of what that is going to look like. And what was really amazing was that he transformed this man into a woman, but she was a really beautiful woman, it wasn’t like drag. And I thought, how interesting could this be for a woman transformed into a guy? It is fascinating. So he took this totally buxom girly woman, and by the end of it she was a hot male model. It was fascinating.
WW: But it’s not like a caricature of a woman or man.
CD: No, that’s the thing. I think it’s a really interesting movement to have at this particular time. What I admire so much about it is its subtlety. It’s a wild idea but the results are quite subtle and when this woman saw herself as a man, I think it was really transformative.
I hope that people will do it and then spend the day as the opposite gender. I think it would be really mind altering. I hope they feel the power of it.
WW: Do you see this as something you’d like to continue more regularly, either here in the US or internationally?
CD: Yeah. MOVE! is so malleable because it is all about human energy. It’s not a bunch of huge installations that have to get shipped all around the world. So it can live and go to any city, and it works within any space because everything is site specific. We’d love to do it in Asia. I think in other places in the US would be really fun, because if you want to intellectualize it you can, but if you want to just show up and have fun, it can be that, too.
I think it has to have some level concept or else someone like you wouldn’t be as interested in it. I feel like we try to do stuff that operates on a couple of different levels. We want it to be legitimate for artists and for people in fashion, too. We’re hugely respectful of both of those industries. We want everyone to have fun but it’s done in a celebratory way.