I’ve been to some crazy backstages and wacky runway shows and presentations, but the presentation last night at the Bortolami Gallery close to 11th avenue, had to be one of the most bizarre, but interesting. Tara Subkoff’s Imitation of Christ is known for being creative and avant-garde, but in fact, as rain and hail threatened outside, Ms. Subkoff was admonishing her models (graceful dancers of every age group) to pay attention to their “private moments” gazing into large, ornate mirrors lining the walls of the gallery like paintings.
Also dressed in beige bodysuits, was a live “choir” of young girls singing a “happy Fall” version of the Carol of the Bells Christmas song (“Ding, Dong, Hark! how the bells, sweet silver bells …). The show was entitled: “This Is Not a Fashion Show,” and no, it wasn’t. But the models were pulling stacks of clothes on and off of their bodies (Imitation of Christ clothes of course) that were literally piled carelessly on the floor (as you might do if you were trying on bunches of stuff for a hot date), while swaying and surveying themselves in the mirrors.
While I only stayed for the rehearsal (I was there to check out the backstage, which I ended up doing for less than 120 seconds before being shooed out), the effect was truly, like watching live works of art. It was clever, and it was enthralling, but it was a bit hard to get a good long look at the various outfits. On the other hand, it was a fresh and novel way to see real clothes on real women and girls. And, while I might have been self-conscious in a bodysuit, pulling clothes on and off and looking at myself in a mirror, the dancer/models, especially the young children, made for some lovely moments that we got to witness.
…and speaking of not being self-conscious! I never made it into the back except in the early part of rehearsal, but apparently, there was an art installation showing a loop of a video with a nude, and very pregnant Vanessa Beecroft (she’s a performance artist, naturally). Another group of naked women showed up glass masks designed by Subkoff along with some glass vaginas. Photographers were madly taking their photos, but I’m not going to put any of mine, here. The masks were marked with the type of marks a plastic surgeon might make, suggested lifts and nips…and so forth (well you get the message).
Apparently, the clothes were not the point of the show. This fashion presentation was held in an art gallery, and for this photographer and reporter, that wasn’t beside the point. The entire thing, however frenetic and bizarre, was enthralling to see.