A long look over the dune
Throughout the months of preliminary discussions, dreams and hopes, towards the exhibition at Design Museum Holon, I was constantly reminded of an old National Geographic photograph reviling a lone man in a black galabiya with a tall turban on his head, standing atop an endless yellow sand dune.
Whether the dune is real or one that stretches between the fences of abandoned lots on the outskirts of a city is irrelevant - a man stands alone facing an endless flow of sand, information, people and technology when the only thing that severalties him from them is a garment. What is it about them that connects us so primordially? Is it the need for protection? The desire to be presented? The thirst to create? To make a mark? Or perhaps it is the understanding that this is design in its pure, primal form, free of ostentation, ornamentation, and embellishment on the level closest to us. The challenge of designing an exhibition for "clothing that were made to be worn" (My Dear Bomb, 2010) was resolved by an expressive installations of Masao Nihei, accompanying the visitors on a journey that evoked emotions, memories and reflections on clothing and design.
Celebrating lifeIn contrast with Yamamoto's image as ‘the master of black', the exhibition presented a colorful aspect of his world, accompanied by the confident hand of Coralie Gauthier. An ensemble of designs rich in color and texture celebrating life was presented in a simulated cityscape recreate in the lower gallery one of a bustling city center with 38 figures rotating at their own pace. "I like cities", says Yamamoto in a 2002 interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, "I like them because they allow great freedom, in them we can be anonymous, a lot of things happen in them, things change at every given moment. Cities are always in a process of change".A red cloud of lightThe upper gallery space was designed as a soft, focused, and meditative space. A large tree made of lights occupied the center of the space, and serve as a source of light and energy, while nine black and red evening gowns were featured throughout the gallery. Above the upper gallery, a red film was covering all 500 Square meters, filtering day light into a soft red cloud.
The choice of this dramatic positioning created a discourse between the experience of a Museum spectator and that of a spectator at a Yamamoto fashion show. "It is important for me to present before an audience without rehearsals", says Yamamoto, "because it is alive and immediate, and I immediately approach the real moment in which models and garments meet for the first time, and then quite naturally something unexpected happens, which I like. They walk out to the front of the stage, face the audience, and behind the scenes we feel the reaction. That moment, which is very emotional, cannot be represented by any medium, neither photography, film, nor text". In this marvels stenography a dance group interact with visitors dressed in black Yamamoto dresses, children dancing between evening gowns listening to live music played in the gallery.
A reflection of our memoriesOne of the most beautiful analogies for a museum exhibit is a street, where people and their cultural image is reflected in the windows they walk past, man facing objects, memories and photographs, and clothes. Given the opportunity to walk around, as if observing a three-dimensional image composed of words, songs, people, colors, and contexts, to decipher the complex structure into a simple narrative on a human scale. Walking back and forth, they seek to find the moment in which, like a garment, the exhibition will come to life embracing them. I returned to look at the photograph of the nomad in the Sahara, and for a moment he seemed to be alive looking back at me, reminding how rare and rewording are the moments we are given the opportunity to create a new experience in a design museum.