Dress, Bodies & Borders
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Level: Undergraduate, Graduate
Division: Parsons The New School for Design
Department: Art/Design Hist & Theory
Course Number: PGHT 5020
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Fashion Studies
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
This course examines visual culture at the turn of the millennium up to the present day, with a particular focus on the work at the juncture between experimental fashion and the visual arts. It explores the ever-increasing challenge posed by practioners from the art and fashion fields to the “classical” concept of the body and of beauty, which found one of its most successful articulations in the images surrounding twentieth century high fashion. Examining the way designers and artists problematize easy demarcations between the inside and outside of the body, the course questions why this period saw an explosion of grotesque imagery-an imagery articulating unsettling ruptures of borders-which had been lurking just beneath the surface throughout the twentieth century. Why is the sealed and “perfect” body, which developed in the Western vocabulary as early as the Renaissance, so forcefully challenged by contemporary designers and artists? The class examines a range of media including the video and performance work of Leigh Bowery, the dance performances of Merce Cunnningham in collaboration with Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, the experimental fashion shows staged by Alexander McQueen and, ultimately, the phenomenon of Lady Gaga. It combines theories and methodologies from fashion theory and history, gender studies, art history, performance and science studies in its exploration of the topic.
Course Open to: Majors Only
Course Pre/Co-requisites:
Open to: All university graduate degree students; undergraduate seniors by permission of the School of Art & Design History & Theory