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It’s easy to approach Lafayette Anticipations’ ‘Martin Margiela’ through the lens of the designer’s mythical reign in the fashion industry.

but the exhibition literature maintains that this is an art display, and we must evaluate it as such.

Despite his complete rejection of fashion, Margiela’s foray into the world of contemporary art is plagued by its epistemologies.

The show kicks off with a billboard-style picture of a projecting deo-stick placed on the back wall of the institution (DÉODORANT, 2021).

https://www.behance.net/salah48

Martin-Margiela-DEODORANT-2022-installation-view-Courtesy-the-artist-and-Zeno-X-Gallery-Antwerp-photograph-Pierre-Antoine
Martin-Margiela-DEODORANT-2022-installation-view-Courtesy-the-artist-and-Zeno-X-Gallery-Antwerp-photograph-Pierre-Antoine

Antiperspirant’s pervasive odor – everywhere to be smelled but nowhere to be seen – seems a suitable play on Margiela’s legacy,

which continues to be felt throughout the fashion world while he maintains his obscurity.

Unfortunately, the self-reflection ends here, as visitors enter a greyscale labyrinth of office blinds to see more than 20 discrete works spread across two floors.

which are presented as indisputable ‘proof that Margiela has always been an artist with the ability to ‘expand the limits of the artwork,’ according to the exhibition literature.

In his ‘Hair Portraits’ series (2015–19), he manipulates female icons from the 1960s and 1970s magazines by covering their faces with hair.

Hair, a long-time obsession for Margiela, reappears in a series of works, including REDHEAD and VANITAS (both 2019).

Martin-Margiela-RED-NAILS-and-RED-NAILS-model-2019-installation-view-Courtesy-the-artist-and-Zeno-X-Gallery-Antwerp-photograph-Pierre-Antoine
Martin-Margiela-RED-NAILS-and-RED-NAILS-model-2019-installation-view-Courtesy-the-artist-and-Zeno-X-Gallery-Antwerp-photograph-Pierre-Antoine

in which wigged spheres in expensive-looking vitrines speak to “the shifting symbolism” of red and greying hair as a mark of the “passage of time” on the female body.

according to the designer.

This banal discourse.

devoid of any genuine identity concerns,

during the duration of the exhibition RED NAILS model (2021).

for instance, comprises fake nails magnified within a vitrine to form a pop-art sculpture that points to ‘the creation of artificial female beauty.

and how the sexualization of women’s bodies has shifted over time. , these ruminations on the fashioned body – evocative of the 1990s’.

Consumer commentary by artists like Vanessa Beecroft, the Chapman Brothers, and Sylvie Fleury coexists with works that explore media specificity in a different.

Martin Margiela, Torso I-III, 2018-21, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp; photograph: Pierre Antoine
Martin Margiela, Torso I-III, 2018-21, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp; photograph: Pierre Antoine

but didactic, way: ‘Lip Sync’ (2020).

for example, is an Andy Warhol-inspired series of silicone prints featuring stills from lip-reading videos that render their messages forever indecipherable.

But, these random references to artistic genres and themes appear to do little more than establish the work’s own status as contemporary art.


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