Getting All Dressed Up

Getting All Dressed Up:

How Does Wearing Clothes Affect the Way We Feel Alive?

Arjun Appadurai: Key Terms:

– Nostalgia
– Ersatz Nostalgia
– Aesthetic of the Ephemeral

Nostalgia & Ersatz Nostalgia:

– Nostalgia is the longing for pasts actually experienced in one’s lifetime
– Ersatz nostalgia is the longing for things that never were, creating experiences of losses that never took place
– Imagined nostalgia is employed to create consumer desire by placing the consumer in an “already periodized present”

Roland Barthes – Camera Lucida – photography and death –
– The act of photographing creates stasis that refers to temporality and highlights the ephemerality of existence
– By manifesting something physically, particularly in photography’s representational expression, we capture time and thus refer to its fleeting nature
– This conception is relatable to Fredric Jameson’s “nostalgia for the present” (Appadurai, Page 77)

Aesthetic of the Ephemeral

– The ephemeral arises from the tension between nostalgia and fantasy
– Feeding on a postmodern, non-unilinear history, as described by Gianni Vattimo
– “The pleasure of ephemeralityis at the heart of disciplining the modern consumer” (Page 83)

– Valorization of ephemerality through:
– Short shelf life
– Speed of fashion change
– Velocity of expenditure
– Polyrhythms of credit, acquisition, and gift
– Transience of TV product images
– Aura of periodization

Ephemerality: Body As Site

Laura Mulvey’s scopophilia – the love of gazing –

– Dictionary definition: sexual stimulation or satisfaction from looking at naked people, most often without their knowledge; a love of looking at people in this way; also: voyeurism
– Freud established two forms, one active, “voyeurism,” and the other passive, “exhibitionism”
– Often used to discuss the male gaze in art and cinema, a focus of John Berger’s; “one who looks has the power”
– “The body of the consumer itself is potentially ephemeral and manipulable” (Page 84)
– Impersonation as the key to distinction

Women, Migration, and the Experience of Dress Mary A. Litrell and Jennifer Paff Ogle

– Holisitic perception of a place is understood through “multisensory perceptions of the built environment” – when one of these elements is altered, the understanding of place is too
– “place is sensed, senses are placed; as places make sense, senses make place”
– Forms of dress create memories that provide “valued feelings” or sentiments associated with appearance
– The “transnational self” – hybridaztion of two cultures into one identity

Artists working with these ideas:

Orlan – “The Reincarnation of St. Orlan”

– “Carnal Art” surgery performances
– Artwork that criticizes the standard of beauty placed on women by altering form according to these standards
– Investigates ephemerality and mutability

Nikki S. Lee

– Uses costuming and disguise to infiltrate other ethnic and cultural groups
– Impersonation allows her to travel freely through ethnoscapes

Cindy Sherman

Exactidudes – ( – Rotterdam-based photographer Ari Versluis and stylist Ellie Uyttenbroek

Bernd and Hilla Becher

Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece” 1965


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