Peter Pilotto’s show at London Fashion Week distinguished itself for more than just the beautiful collection sent down the catwalk.
In what must certainly be a first for any London Fashion Week, the designers behind the label, Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, invited artists Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen to produce a new art work specifically responding the collection and unique space on London’s old Eurostar platform at Waterloo.
The Antwerp-based artist duo produced a work of cut mirrored Plexiglas suspended in three layers on the end wall from behind which the models emerged. Entirely in keeping with their established artistic practice, the carefully thought out placement of the highly reflective materials created a stunning image in which the fragmented reflections of the glass canopy of the station, the models in Peter Pilotto’s stunning SS11 collection and the audience itself all merged into a morphing object demanding attention.
Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen work predominantly in sculpture and photography in which the use of mirrored surfaces is a recurring motif. They often produce precise works that foreground their practice of responding to specific architectural spaces. It would do well, however, to keep this in context: it is not that Arocha + Schraenen are ‘site-specific’ artists but rather that one of the subtexts of their overarching practice is that all art work ultimately becomes site-specific, intentionally or otherwise. Bound up tightly with the aspect of their oeuvre that addresses issues of perception and experiential sight, they often use very specific architectures –such as the one at Waterloo – that powerfully harnesses aspects of the work engaging human biology and its quirks; games are played with perceptions of colour, space and depth.
All of this, of course, is entirely in keeping with the preoccupations of the two designers who invited them to make the work. Peter Pilotto is, after all, the brand, that first produced the stunning digital print fabrics that have since attracted a plethora of imitators. However, as was in evidence at Waterloo, the fashion talents of Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, extend far beyond the clever use of prints. Elegantly flowing silhouettes or tightly nipped shirt dresses all showed a range of beautiful draping and precise folds and contours. Use of bold blocks of colour in a range of palettes was also very much in evidence; in sheer glamourous evening wear and ribbed knits. Knitwear also featured – in a moment of beautiful synchronicity- stark geometric line patterns not dissimilar to those of the station’s glass canopy. And all of this, in turn, was reflected by the art work that stood, as both an announcement and denouement, at one end of the seemingly endless platform.
In addition to a range of solo shows in international galleries, Carla Arocha + Stéphane Schraenen have shown work in exhibitions at FRAC Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand; Beeldend Kunst Strombeek, Mechelen; Hessenhuis, Antwerp; ISELP, Elsene; Museo Abello, Barcelona; Petra, Mexico City and Lieu d’Art Contemporain, Sigean. They were commissioned to make a new public work for Howard Station, Chicago, installed in 2009 and were included in the 2009 Biennale of Brussels. They were included in the exhibition ‘5×5 Castello’ at Espai d’Art Contemporani de Castello, Castello as nominees for the Castello 09 contemporary art prize, selected by Cristina Iglesias, Jeff Wall, Daniel Buren, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Luc Tuymans. Their work was also included in ‘The State of Things’ curated by Fan Di’an, Ai Wei Wei and Luc Tuymans at Bozar, Brussels, later traveling to the National Art Museum of China, Beijing.