Magazine article Artforum International

Olivier Zahm's Flash Track

Magazine article Artforum International

Olivier Zahm's Flash Track

Article excerpt

Ready-made exoticism, chic urbanity, squeaky-clean sexuality: by and large the image of fashion that comes at us from the top-end glossies trades on a narrow range of esthetic codes. But fashion - at least fashion that goes beyond ossified convention - happens where the street meets the showroom; however entangled the umbilical cord that joins the two, the connection guarantees life. The most vaunted of couturiers have always been bottom feeders when and where it counts, and today the work of fashion's most innovative photographers, as much as fashion itself, feeds on the culture of the club and street. The new photographers traverse multiple scenes; when it comes to fashion, they are likely to be found backstage, shooting the designs of their peers with little certainty that their pictures will he published. When, in recent years, new fashion images - images that speak the language of now - have made it into print, they have surfaced first at the margins of the fashion industry, in British youth-cult magazines like ID and The Face. Though for photographers and designers alike the transition from youth-pop glossies to the mainstream fashion press can be lightning fast, a handful of young designers have short-circuited traditional channels to create new fashion images. Take an extreme case: Martin Margiela, refusing to allow photographers sent by fashion magazines to shoot his collections, supplies his own images and demands control over layouts in which his designs appear. David Sims and Yohji Yamamoto; Mario Sorrenti and Dolce & Gabbana; Juergen Teller and Helmut Lang: the new face of fashion depends as much on the photographer's efforts to break with received esthetic codes as with the philosophies of the designers themselves. it is to this model of collaboration that Artforum turns: each month, beginning with this issue, a photographer will select a designer and offer up an image (or a few) for publication.

First up: 33-year-old, London-born, Paris/New York-based Mark Borthwick, a former makeup artist who turned to photography after a brief art-school stint in America. His images have appeared in ID, Interview, and Italian Vogue, and he has collaborated with Margiela, Commes des Garcons, and Yamamoto. Working with unprecedented speed, Borthwick interacts with the model in semiperformative situations; the images of fashion that result are characterized by a hybrid status - one somewhere between performance and dance - and they convey a palpable, almost disquieting physicality. …

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