Stacy Engman asks artists to create wearable works for Art Capsul project

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2014, 10:26am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2014, 10:27am

She's been dubbed the Lady Gaga of the art world, and when you meet her, it's clear why. Stacy Engman is a caricature of the zealous fashionista, but that's not all she is.

An art curator by day and style maker by night, Engman has worked with seminal artists from across the world, including Tracy Emin, Marina Abramovic and Vik Muniz. She is also known for her efforts to make the arts accessible. What's the best way to do that? Through fashion, she says.

Having worked with institutions such as the Salvador Dali Museum, the National Arts Club, and the Museum of Modern Art, Engman's work is rooted in collaborations that look at the intersection between art and fashion.

One of her latest collections, Art Capsul, does just that. The travelling exhibition which premiered last year at Paris' Palais de Tokyo and has now made the Joyce Boutique in Central, Hong Kong its home during the frenetic Art Basel week, until May 30.

The idea for the project is simple. Engman approached a group of artists with the open, albeit narcissistic, notion of creating a garment that represents their impressions of their own bodies of work.

The artists had complete control over their designs, drawing on anything from a childhood memory to religion.

The idea came to Engman after years of working with fashion designers, who she would engage to create garments for performance artists. From there, she began experimenting and encouraging artists to make their own clothes.

"This is the first time that anyone has asked artists to conceive of a garment in an organised way. To me, it felt very organic because I think there are many crossovers between fashion and art," says Engman.

"I approached the project as if the garments were a medium that the artists used in their work. They could explore them in the same way as they might explore painting, or sculpture, or film; they were the canvas for their art."

This resulted in a range of interpretations, such as a pleated skirt imprinted with dancers' legs, by performance artist Ryan McNamara, and painter George Condo's use of fetishised, luxury materials such as fox fur against a silkscreen of an existing painting.

Asked how she found working with Asian artists compared with those from Europe or the Americas, Engman says there was little difference.

"Asian artists are extremely inspired - to be honest, any artist at the level of talent and acclaim of those in this show, is extremely professional. But these days, there's such an international standard in the art world that I don't see there being regional differences.

"It's very individual - the experiences that inform an artist's work- and I feel like you could put these pieces anywhere and they would be appreciated."

Art Capsul connects art and fashion with a consumer base that's hungry for innovation. Art is made accessible through the one thing that connects us all: clothing.

Many designers would agree that patronising art through the clothing that you wear is the essence of self-expression, and Engman agrees that's what Art Capsul represents.

What's more, anyone can appreciate it. "Clothing and fashion connect so many people, between professions and generations. If you share a memory of a garment, that's a universal feeling," Engman says.