Fetishes of the gaze
Fashion and seduction
Today, fashion - also as a result of increased prosperity - has long since gone beyond our purely functional needs and is deeply interwoven with our everyday lives. Strategies of seduction in design and marketing are becoming increasingly sophisticated, endowing clothing and accessories with an emotional quality, making them much more than mere means to an end.
To capture the complex relationship between people and their thing culture, the term "fetish" has become a key concept. It was originally developed around 1750 in a religious-ethnological context to describe rituals in African tribal cultures. Then, in the 19th century, it was transposed into a new context and located in the web of desires and projections that became inscribed in the consumer world as department stores became cathedrals of commodities. Karl Marx already warned against their seductive illusions in Das Kapital (1867).
Today, the term characterizes above all the way in which people allow themselves to be fascinated by mystically chargeable objects from their living world. For it is the mystification and emotionalization that constitutes the special appeal and "experienceability" of things. The exaggerated meaning attributed to them in the sense of exclusivity, beauty, or power has long since developed into an essential drive of consumer society and has also become a theme in the visual arts since the 1960s. Artists appropriate the thing culture of the fulfillment-promising illusory world and push its worship character to the extreme; they decipher the strategies of marketing and seduction, create images of meaning, or confront their audience with their own abundance.
The exhibition, conceived and curated by Wiebke Hahn, addresses mystification and cultic exaltation as the great playground of the fashion world. It questions the tension between the history attributed to things and their owners, explores how objects constitute meaning, and makes fashion tangible as a central element of our theatrical culture. With a few exceptions, the exhibition focuses on works from the ahlers collection. On the basis of works from early modernism to the present, it enables a multifaceted examination of practical fetishes from the fields of religion, superstition, commodity and money culture as well as eroticism and sexuality. Works of object art, photography, drawing and painting provide food for thought with regard to the theatricalization of the world of commodities and our entanglement in it.
The show takes place in cooperation with Marta Herford, which at the same time is presenting the exhibition "Look! Revelations on Art and Fashion," illuminating other facets of this multi-layered theme. You will receive a discount on the admission price at Marta Herford with your ticket to our exhibition, valid on the day.