Momenting the Memento

12 — 16 May 2015 in Florence, Italy

17 APRIL 2015
Gary Needham e Yvonne Trew, The Fetish Moment, Nottingham Trent University, England, Credits: Photographer Laura Allen; Creative direction Yvonne Trew
Gary Needham e Yvonne Trew, The Fetish Moment, Nottingham Trent University, England, Credits: Photographer Laura Allen; Creative direction Yvonne Trew

Registration is open for the event, Momenting the Memento. As part of the 150th anniversary for Florence as Capital of Italy, Polimoda – international higher education institute for the fashion industry – is preparing to welcome an international audience of fashion professionals, academics, researchers, creatives and lovers of art, fashion, architecture, writing, philosophy and design, for an occasion that will be a cross-­‐cultural and artistic encounter involving the city’s symbolic sites, like Palazzo Vecchio, Opera di Santa Croce, National Central Library, Palazzo Strozzi, and Villa Favard, home to the institute.

Between 12th and 16th May, Florence will be hosting the IFFTI2015 -­‐ International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes conference, a foundation that brings together 46 fashion institutes from all over the world – in Italy for the first time. The event is organised by Polimoda, which for the occasion, has devised and organised Momenting the Memento, an international research and networking project to discuss the cultural value of fashion and the future of training, through an interdisciplinary dialogue involving the languages of contemporary art and culture.

From 12th May, Momenting the Memento– curated by Linda Loppa, Director of Polimoda, will involve the city that is the cradle of the Renaissance in a packed programme covering conversations and debates with internationally important guests, installations, performances and video projects in its major locations of art and inspiration.

Fashion, art, architecture, writing and human sciences, in their myriad different interpretations, will be the focus of debate and experimentation, involving 46 institutes from all over the world, 37 nations, 100 international delegates and dialogue with over 500 participants from among young talents, researchers, creatives, artists, and fashion professionals.

Momenting the Memento will take the form of a walk&talk in the city, involving visionaries and opinion leaders in art, fashion and culture in symbolic locations of Florence, through six areas – sites for experimentation that will be transversally expressed in the form of conversations, installations, performances and videos.

As well as speakers at the cycle of talks “In Conversation with” at the Odeon CineHall and workshops at the Refectory of Santa Croce, including Tim Blanks (Editor-­‐at-­‐large of Style.com), Sissel Tolaas (olfactory researcher and professional in-­‐betweener), Stefan Siegel (Founder of Not Just A Label), Clemens Thornquist (writer, researcher and fashion designer), and Diane Pernet (journalist fashion blogger, founder of ASVOFF Film Festival), the event will be hosted by three internationally famous visionaries: Ou Ning – activist and artistic director of the Bishan Project, who will be bringing Bishan Commune to Italy for the first time at the National Library, Michel Maffesoli, sociologist at the Sorbonne University, Paris and director of Les Cahiers Européens de l’Imaginaire, here with his keynote speech, “Dans le creuset des apparences,” and Jan Debbaut, Professor of Curatorial Studies (University of Groningen, University College Ghent – KASK) and former Museum Director.

The spotlight will be on the six areas of inquiry, the central themes of the event, represented and linked together with 26 installations and performances, and the result of a selection of the very best ideas and projects brought to Polimoda from all over the world, through the IFFTI network. These are projects that can be read in different keys, the result of the multidisciplinary layout put in place by Polimoda, which invite the connection of different areas, but also relate them to a dialogue with their settings, as they adapt to their surrounding space.

BODY: in the sense of physical body, the semiotics of the body and expressive language; a three-­‐dimensional canvas on which to depict thoughts, emotions, and moods. The body as a protagonist and natural subject of the worlds of art and fashion. The body as body language, which can be studied to find points of contact between different cultures.

The physical essence of the body (BODY) that becomes a powerful element of our imagination (IMAGERY) through accessories (DRESS) is the subject of a performance by Gary Needham and Yvonne Trew (Nottingham Trent University, England) – The Fetish Moment: an installation/performance on the theme of fetishism and the symbolic value of the mask -­‐ a disturbing element in our security systems but also an intriguing invitation to discover a concealed identity – in contemporary and fashion culture. BODY and DRESS, considered in this instance in terms of absence, are central to the work by Aki Choklat and Ruggero Lupo Mengoni (Polimoda, Finland and Italy) – Humazine, at the National Library: a large, life-­‐sized publication on the subject of Dress/Undress, where the physical nature of man, in human size, is a protagonist displaying new printing and binding methods.

CALLIGRAPHY: is here interpreted as the beauty of writing as a means of expressing an idea, a concept or a method, a poetic language and art form or means to recount an emotion and share a viewpoint. Writing that needs to be qualified, as in the art of calligraphy, before it is even translated into words, through a cultural background and a course of research, study and reflection.

CALLIGRAPHY, in relation to fashion (DRESS), is the theme of the installation Anna Kruyswijk (ArtEZ Institutes of the Art, Holland), Fashion Friction: a manifesto of the publishing and curatorial aspect of fashion, seen from outside its more traditional circuits. A challenging message through which the author aims to induce a constructive tension with the contemporary generation of fashion writers and curators, in order to bring about new stimuli.

CRAFT: manual skill, craftsmanship and the active, concrete working of materials to express and originate a creativity that is the tangible result of an idea that takes shape. It is the noble art of creating an item, but also those refined creative techniques that – especially in fashion – give a value to the item and to garments, making the difference between something commonplace and something precious.

Where CRAFT and BODY intersect, we find the installation The New Body by Saumya Pande (Pearl Academy, India) along the outer wall of the Basilica di Santa Croce. A sculpture in paper yarn and wool, crafted to evoke the dynamic nature of a moving body, contrasting and dialoguing with the monumental, static marble of Santa Croce -­‐ also the result of traditional manual skills, those of the master builders who created the great basilica centuries ago.

DRESS: Clothing – undisputed protagonist of the fashion world, but also an important element of every cultural and social system. With its shapes and colours, clothing has an intrinsic, personal significance for the wearer and also for the person who made it, a factor that stimulates an emotion or sensorial “moment”. When we dress our body to give it a new boost, with a new aesthetic, we get the feeling that our own story is now ready for new experiences.

Clothes (DRESS), seen through the spectator’s perception and interpretation (IMAGERY), are the focus of the performance by London College of Fashion (England) -­‐ Art of Dress. A performance at Santa Croce that aims to involve the public in physical interaction with the garments on show, which, thanks to interpretation and handling by visitors – who are invited to express their own personal vision of what clothing is or should be – lose their status as items to be contemplated and undergo a transformation that might even lead to their extreme destruction. The performance of Adele Varcoe (RMIT University, Australia) Adjust also researches the relationship between clothing (DRESS), the body wearing it (BODY) and the context around it (SPACE): via interaction between the performer and the spectator, the artist seeks to demonstrate how even the smallest change in how a garment is worn can influence the attitude and perception of self of the wearer.

IMAGERY: imaginary, the meeting point between visible and invisible, real and virtual, tangible and intangible. A scenario of infinite or finite possible universes inside which we find everything that exists, like space, time, matter and energy. A place where thought and creative vision merge together.

In the crypt of Santa Croce, image and the imaginary (IMAGERY) dialogue with clothing (DRESS) and space (SPACE) through Bridging Flat and Stereoscopic Space: Japan’s two-­‐and-­‐a-­‐half dimensional representation in textiles and imagery by Yuriko Satoh (Bunka Gakuen University, Japan). A kimono, the expression par excellence of two-­‐dimensional construction in oriental clothes, creates the three-­‐dimensional nature of pattern making for western-­‐style clothing through transparent effects, projected images and layering. Also at Santa Croce, we have The Choreographed Garment by Ulrik Martin Larsen (Swedish School of Textiles, Denmark/Sweden): seven short videos about the choreographic adaptation of clothing (DRESS) that explore its interactive capacity on the body (BODY) through the movement of contemporary dance.

SPACE: conceived as a three-­‐dimensional space that welcomes and surrounds the body; an urban, architectural and also scenographic space to create shared emotions, like in a fashion show or exhibition. A space for perception, for dialogue, in which to get to know oneself and others. The site of an eternal dialogue between “container” and “content”.

The site-­‐specific installation by Tom Hall and Tony Bednall (Manchester Metropolitan University, England and USA), Stories Without Stories – a gigantic cardboard jacket almost 20 metres square, as if casually abandoned on the steps of Villa Favard – is a monument to daily living that calls into question the purely decorative aspect of clothing (DRESS), placing it in a context relating to its use (SPACE), as well as to a personal interpretation (IMAGERY). In the performance Moment Cuts – Spherical Space by Rickard Lindquist and Karin Peterson (Swedish School of Textiles, Sweden), space is where the artist seems to fluctuate, encompassed in a large garment inside a rounded form, like a modern Vitruvian Man, suggesting an alternative theory of pattern construction, relating to the human body (BODY) and its proportions in the space itself.

A calendar of three special evenings, on 13th, 14th and 15th May, at Palazzo Strozzi, Villa Favard and the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, charming locations, especially opened up for the guests of this event. The full programme can be seen on the website www.iffti2015.polimodaconference.com, where it is possible to register to attend conferences, including visits to installations and performances (subject to availability).

At the same time as Expo Milano 2015 and the 56th International Art Exhibition by the Biennale di Venezia, which will see international eyes all turned to Italy, IFFTI 2015 and Momenting the Memento represent a new occasion to make the most of the combination of fashion, culture and art that has always been a symbol of Made in Italy all over the world.