Peplum IV, 2015. Aluminum, galvanized steel, rivets, and enamel, 48 x 29 x 18 in.

Diane Simpson: Fashioning

Clothes are the skin over the skin of the body. Although one is manufactured and the other biological, both are theorized constructions. Objectively speaking, the body is a succession of stacked parts that vary conceptually in terms of emotive emphasis: head, neck, torso, hips, genitals, legs, feet. The body dressed is a different class of object, a semiotic vehicle rather than an anatomical structure. This entity, which consists of collar, sleeves, pockets, waist, vents, fastenings, pleats, edging, stitching, and trimmings, is a collection of social values that function as something more than skin covering. For Karl Marx, dress figured as part of a materialist account of the world-in other words, clothes embodied the mystification of objects in modern culture. The body itself is a system of essential functions; it is irreducible. Clothes, on the other hand, are the expression of culture working through a system; they have a life independent of the body. Clothing can be understood as a form of thought as articulate as language, diagrams, poetry, or equations. Appearances camouflage meaning; like sculpture, clothes embody a formality of infinite variability and signification. …see the entire article in the print version of January/February’s Sculpture magazine.

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