Sarah Abney x Thom Browne
Between the consumption of hair, doggies donning suits, and the overall whimsicality of the piece, we certainly had a couple questions for these ladies.
Watch the collaboration below, and read on to find out what Abney and Chang had to say about their artistic synergy, the point where fashion and performance intersect, and how we resemble our pets.
Fashion is a realm historically linked to notions of beauty, composure, grace etc. The second scene of your piece (the consumption of the hair) is profoundly unsettling. What was the intention, if any, of that inclusion, especially so early on?
SC—I don’t think of fashion in that way. I see it as the subconscious, a subversion of order, and a means to cover/uncover identity. All of my collaborations with Sarah have involved hair. We had recently finished a piece for MoMA PS1 on the hair trade, and there was more left to be said, mainly regarding the paradox of hair as parasite: it is estranged (grows outwards) yet is dependent on the skin for its life (new life, if speaking of wigs and extensions). The cycle of relinquishing/distributing/consuming hair as crop in this scene is to demonstrate the contradictions involved in the consumption of labor.
What are some of the aesthetic qualities unique to Thom Browne that you tried to encapsulate within the content of your video?
SA—The video, like art works in general, is not to be taken literally, but is open to interpretation. It does not not have one specific meaning, but seeks to stimulate a creative response in the viewer. Thom Browne is an artist and designer who often takes the familiar, such as a style or garment, and re-interprets it. His creations, like my videos, can be wildly whimsical to generate a fresh response.
Explain what you consider to be the relationship between fashion and performance. How was this relationship demonstrated in your piece?
SA—Both fashion and performance are stylized formats, that is, the artist has basic material/aesthetics that must be employed. For fashion, it is fabric and for performance/video it is the stage/film/video. They both utilize color, movement, composition, scale, and other principles of design to communicate. For example, in my video, hair is consumed which can be seen as an analogy for how we devour fashion and creative energy.
SC—I think of garments worn during a performance in a ceremonial or ritualistic manner. Here we wear a uniform of suits and nightgowns, and our performance is the obscurity and unity of a pack of dogs. Browne's best friend and most frequent muse is his dachshund, Hector.
How was the dog head mask used during the video?
SA—People and their pets share their identities. In many ways, we are like dogs and dogs are like us. Playful, curious, affectionate, funny animals. We have symbiotic relationships. We partake of the dog and the dogs become us.
SC—There wasn’t meant to be a difference in wearer and non wearer. There is no difference between human, non-human, the invented “other.”
What was the significance of location within the video? Was there a correlation between location and behavior?
SA—In the video, there are houses, playgrounds, festive venues and dream spaces. We inhabit all of these environments and each evokes a different behavior. They are the stages that surround and describe our passions and energies.
- Directed by Sarah Abney
- Creative Direction by Soojin Chang
- Costume by Thom Browne
- Performance by Sarah Abney, Soojin Chang, Alan Gaynor & Alexander Stephen Haddad
- Cinematography by Alan Gaynor, Brett Millspaw, Jon Knox, Sarah Abney & Soojin Chang
- Edit & Sound by Sarah Abney & Soojin Chang