A special dose of artistic craziness could be found at this year’s Berlin Biennale. Why? First of all, the creative director for this year’s exhibition is Babak Radboy, who is, as usual, bringing all his transgressive feel from his unisex brand Telfar to the exhibition. Second, the exhibition is being curated by the New York based art and culture digital magazine DIS.
The biennale is an intersection of perspectives of the DIS ideology, which Radboy terms as “post-contemporary” and the intellectual yet simple concept of the clothing brand Telfar.
“I feel like a lot of what we’ve all been doing crystallized in this moment. And that’s just always been Telfar’s perspective. He was the heart of the scene we all come from. A lot of us had to really intellectualize what it meant and he’d just been doing it since 2003.”
There haven’t been many fashion brands showcasing their collection in an art gallery. Radboy wanted to communicate with its audience in a different way, and decided to feature a whole collection in an art show in 2012 that was sold as one single piece. Radboy, has already, and is currently breaking many stereotypes. His work doesn’t show any influence from his personal life, he simply makes T-shirts and presents them in a remarkable manner.
“Part of telling the story about Telfar, is telling the story about a lot of things that he isn’t and doesn’t do. Relationship to the expectations for a black designer, for a gay designer, expectations of gender or even being post-gender. He doesn’t do any of that. Everything is kind of fed through this ambivalence. Part of that is an ambivalence towards luxury. He loves core materials, and raw construction methods.”
Telfar’s experiments with T-shirts has been put on 20 life size models in the exhibition, all of them are made to look like Telfar himself. This idea had roots in an anime video that had 45 Telfars, hence, they did it for real. The different Telfars could be seen doing different activities like leaning against the pillar, sit on a bench and so on. To create more drama, the staff at the gallery is also wearing the uniforms designed by Telfar. Also 17-foot tall pictures of Telfar’s family members hang in the space wearing the same T-shirts.
The fashion world is confused by Telfar as a clothing brand,
“Last season, we made a collection that was so off trend on purpose, we figure the further you go from trend, the more likely you are to made something new, But the reaction from the buyers was, ‘Well, this doesn’t look like anything from the store’ so we’re thinking about ways to work more with museums and create our own stores.”
A mobile, buyer friendly installation is being designed by Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch that will travel around the country. Will you shop?
Text: Pinanki Shah
Images: i-D, Telfar Clemens