Atopos Contemporary Visual Culture presents the fruitful results of a three-year-long investigation into character design. Transcending the fashion and avant-garde theatre worlds, the greek organization's Stamos Fafalios, Angelos Tsourapas and Vassilis Zidianakis have worked with big names like Robert Wilson and Antwerp’s MoMu fashion museum. ARRRGH! Monsters in Fashion was originally presented in Athens and then Paris. This latest run at Utrecht’s Centraal Museum – 19 October 2013 to 19 January 2014 – features 70 costumes by 40 established and emerging designers including Bart Hess, Charlie le Mindu, Craig Green, Henrik Vibskov, Issey Miyake, Viktor & Rolf, Masion Martin Margiela and Walter Van Beirendonk. Frame spoke to Angelos Tsourapas during their recent opening at Centraal Museum.
Breaking the archetype of beauty in fashion, from where did you draw initial Inspiration? Angelos Tsourapas: At first, Vassilis Zidianakis realized that character-based design had moved from marketing and advertisment into art and fashion. Discovering Pictoplasma was curcial in identifying this influence. They subsqeuntly published Not a Toy – our initial research combining an extensive amount of texts and images. This book was our refference when curated the first ARRRGH! Monsters in Fashion show in Athens. With this research and subsequent exhibition, we wanted to show how beauty can be found where we least expect it.
Featuring costumes designed by 40 designers, what steps were taken in your curatorial process? Many of the designs we came across in our research were unavailable – often designers do not archive their one-off pieces. Still, Vassilis Zidianakis and I were able to exhibit the work of internationally recognized and local names – many of which were influenced by characters in the video games they played as children. Most of the pieces exhibited were first shown at major catwalks in Paris, London, and New York. As the finale of each show, designers revealed monster-like costumes which comprised all of ideas they had for that collection. Moving Arrrgh! Monsters in Fashion from Athens to Paris and now Utrecht, we added and subtracted designs based on different settings. Staying current, we also included work from new collections. Here in Utrecht, an entire space is dedicated to Victor & Rolfs’ L’Hiver de l’Amour installation – part of the Centraal Museum’s collection.
How does the exhibition’s scenography emphasis your intention? How does it reflect your style? Reflecting the economic turmoil in Greece, our first exhibition featured a smashed-through wall. With the idea of monsters breaking out of prison, the costumes were displayed in cage-like room. We continued this aesthetic in both Paris and Utrecht. Cold white fluorescent tubes in violently- dropped arrangements juxtapose white walls and accentuate the costumes’ array of colours and shapes.