Past exhibition

Chic Clicks – Creativity and Commerce in Contemporary Fashion Photography

15.06.–18.08.2002

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The concept for Chic Clicks addresses both the traditional division and the newly distinguished proximity between fashion and fine art photography. With the new breed of magazines in the 1990s (such as Purple, Dutch, Self Service) the traditional form of commissioned work and the context of the magazine editorial have been rendered obsolete to some extent. Today, for both the material and documentary aspect and the promotional purpose of fashion photography, progressive magazines have substituted a display of artistic and experimental images.

The photographers in Chic Clicks have been invited for this reason. If their diverse bodies of work have one thing in common, it is the refusal to merely show the surface of fashion. They explore the proper meaning of the word: the notion of change, the shifting concept of beauty, and the ironic refusal and subversion of tradition – both social and visual. Pervading these photos is a realism that goes deeper than mere documentary quality. The operations of both the art world and the fashion industry are seen for what they are; not simply dismissed as political operations or commercial conventions but questioned through the very refusal of the photographers to adhere to one concept exclusively or to show in one context only. While the fashion magazines now champion what previously would have been classified as “fine art” photography and while the industry increasingly hands out creative cartes blanches, the art world in turn aggressively courts these photographers for their contemporary visions and expressive awareness of visual chic. For the photographers themselves, the boundaries between what constitutes art and fashion have therefore now become curious obstacles that can be, if not entirely ignored for professional reasons, at least easily surmounted.

In presenting images that have been published largely under these novel conditions, together with very personal work also infused with this blurring of categories, the exhibition comments at the same time on the artificiality of such a division, on its persistence in the (art)market and on its disposable character for the photographers.

The exhibition was curated by Ulrich Lehmann and Jessica Morgan. Realisation in Winterthur: Urs Stahel. A cooperation with The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston.

Main sponsor: UBS AG

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