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Guest curated by Julia Pine
May 5 to September 3, 2012

Dress and Identity in Contemporary Canadian Art


1. One's personality expressed in their clothing, “fashion personality.”
2. One's nationality expressed in their clothing, “fashion nationality.”

- The Urban Dictionary

“Fashionality” is a newly coined term that refers to the visual culture and semiotics of dress and adornment. Combining the words “fashion,” “personality,” and “nationality,” it reflects the interplay between clothing, identity, and culture. The exhibition surrounds this theme, and explores the work of twenty-three contemporary Canadian artists who have employed apparel as a primary medium, subject or sign. Reflecting wide geographic and cultural diversity, it focuses upon the ways in which the concerns, identities, and aesthetics of those living in Canada are expressed, deconstructed, and reconfigured through the idiom of dress.

The dialogue between art and clothing has grown exponentially in the last few decades. This perhaps reflects how adornment can be “read” as a language, or what French cultural theorist Roland Barthes calls, the “vestimentary code.” Certainly, nothing can so readily convey gender, status or cultural affinity, or play with such indicators as dress can; neither is there an object that can more readily infer or nuance a human presence. Fashionality picks up these threads and considers the many artists who have turned to apparel for its expressive qualities. In doing so, they help to uncover what it means to be woven into Canada’s national fabric.

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