stedelijk museum bureau amsterdam #75
20 Jul - 31 Aug 2003

INVITATION #75: FASHION, ART, DESIGN with Bernhard Willhelm, Carmen Freudenthal, Elle Verhagen, BLESS, JOFF, Julia Born, Corriette Schoenaerts, Pavel Spasovski, David Sherry, Arnoud Holleman, Michael Magnan, Scott Hug, Floor Wesseling (IXOPUSADA)

Guest curator: Bart van der Heide.

A medium can be so broad and open that an exhibition may turn out to be incredibly indistinct. Making "Invitation #75" therefore was one of the biggest challenges I have ever undergone, professionally speaking. The output of this group of young designers, photographers, stylists, fashion designers and artists that was brought together in this exhibition was not constrained by a fixed theoretical frame, but by personal encounters, reactionary and creative decisions that led to the final presentation as you see it.

A week before the opening things could still change a 180 degrees: and believe me they did! In this way, possibilities and opportunities were created up to the last moment for adjustments or even outright alterations, similar to the topical moves of fashion labels that tend to change after every season. This makes the show explicitly time based, touching upon even more whimsical topics such as identity and creativity but, at the same time, introducing the risk of loosing focus.

For "Invitation #75" six artists were approached to make a visual statement about their position within their professional practice and (commodity) culture, as they see it. Using two influential labels, BLESS and Bernhard Willhelm as a starting point, a younger generation of creative individuals was invited to assess their position in their own manner. This group of starting professionals is loosely related to the main labels: they belong to a personal network, or just draw inspiration from them.

Every participant was stimulated to collaborate with likeminded colleagues, leading to new collaborations and inputs within the framework of the six statements already outlined, all the while keeping in mind that the final output would be exhibited in a museological space. In this way, all the works except David Sherry's were made especially for the space of Bureau Amsterdam, isolating them from everyday commodity hysteria and focussing the makers' attention on the appearance and relevance of the products they created, almost to give a subject to a discipline that tends to be all image and no interiority.

In using this approach, a new impetus was given to the creative process: "I do believe that, at this point in time, a truly interesting movement is taking place in the creative arts in which much more emphasis is placed on craft. It is a reaction of sorts to the cold and pro-techno approach in the 90's", stipulates Michael Magnan in his questionnaire. This may sound naïve, but it clearly describes the less designed, almost artisan do-it-yourself work young artists and designers are producing. Things don't have to be expensive to make and can be produced without a full team of assistants, seems to be the 

All the participants of "Invitation #75" move freely within different fields of commercial and cultural production at the same time, and affiliate themselves easily to design as well as to art. To use the words of the duo BLESS published in a recent Metropolis M magazine: "All the products must initially make sense to us and enrich our own surroundings. These surroundings tend to change with every production as does the medium that is used. We do not notice the line of separation between the disciplines at such. We don't give much thought to these divisions or how the disciplines are defined. The only reason for a product's existence is that it was once needed and we created it ".

The occasion at hand, "Invitation #75", constituted the framework for the interaction of various contributors who, individually, were also provided with the opportunity to point out their own vision in this alternative newsletter, a substitute for the SMBA Newsletter. Short questionnaires have been elaborated, inspired by those printed in glossies like Dazed & Confused, which replace the theoretical background material usually presented in the SMBA Newsletter. The information is personal, time based and intends to satisfy the never-fulfilled need of commodity culture to find the personal backgrounds of artistic statements.

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