Collection “Standard”, 13 garments. Artist Clothing 2003.

Is there something wrong with tennis shirts, beige Dockers trousers and pastel-coloured poplin shirts? I ask artist Ulrika Gunnarsdotter. During the spring fashion shows in Stockholm recently she showed perverted versions of the kind of clothes that many so-called ordinary people wear every day. Beige cotton trousers, but with knees so droopy that they look seasick, weirdly warped tennis shirts and light blue shirts that have lost all their proportions and grown as big as dresses. This spring, clothing broke through the media static by looking surreally super-normal compared to the swedish mainstream fashion of idealised family mummy-daddy-baby aesthetics. The garments were even made in front of an audience at an open workshop at Kulturhuset in Stockholm, and were marketed as art at artist brand Artist Clothing’s fashion show at Södra Teatern. Yes, she says. Her tennis shirts are art. – There is no reason for art to stay in galleries and art departments, or to be limited to a certain medium. And no. According to Ulrika Gunnarsdotter there is nothing wrong with the kind of practical, cheap and easily washable clothes that Swedish bureaucrats and journalists often appear in. It’s no coincidence that these particular garments have become best-sellers. It’s camouflage uniform that you put on to melt into the great majority and blend into the crowd to say: I’m like you, I’m OK, I’m a part of us…There’s nothing wrong with wanting to belong to a group. It’s a nice feeling…” But there’s also something wrong with clothes that are so stereotyped and normalised that they make people invisible. It’s not the tennis shirts or people themselves that she wants to criticize, however. – Tennis shirts, Dockers trousers and pastel shirts symbolise society’s intolerance of diversity. Because society has no place to show weakness, disease and old age…

Excerpt from “Civilian Camouflage”, Interview Susanne Pagold. Plaza Magazine International 2004.

%d bloggers like this: