/ February 20, 2009

"Target Practice"

THERE’S DECONSTRUCTION meaning the close reading and critical disassembly of a text according to a Derridean conception of difference, and there’s deconstruction meaning, well, ripping stuff up. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the latter interpretation that held sway at a Friday-night launch event for British fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s new line for Target. Transforming a warehouse on the West Side Highway into a pop-up store, the wannabe-hip retailer invited ten New York artists to make “one-of-a-kind pieces” for the temporary venue (described, optimistically, as a “dynamic social space”) using whatever odds and ends of the cut-price avant-garde threads they found appealing.

Aiming to highlight “the creative dialogue existing between the little-tackled binaries of DIY philosophy and convention, craft and mass-production, the individual and society,” and to create in the process “a kind of fashion anthropophagi,” the evening was also an opportunity for shoppers to snap up examples of McQueen’s ’80s-inflected womenswear—provided they were willing to join long lines and cower in the raking shadows of statuesque models. (My own position in the fashionista food chain was summed up when one of the latter casually draped her multiple acquisitions over me while displaying them to a friend.)

“He said, ‘Do you think fashion is art?’ and I said, ‘I don’t think it’s that simple of a question.’” A seven-foot blonde held court in one of the shopping enclosures as an iPod-on-shuffle DJ quit the decks and the Duke Spirit took to the stage. A tad theatrical for your correspondent’s taste, the band at least provided an alternative focus for the dozens of photographers—professional and amateur—on hand to document the occasion. The more heavily equipped shutterbugs had been camped out near the entrance waiting for celebrities and had found some eager prey in actresses January Jones, Amanda Bynes, and Michelle Trachtenberg, as well as stylist Philip Bloch. Art-world faces were fewer and further between, though New Museum curator Eungie Joo, Sara Meltzer Gallery codirector Jeffrey Walkowiak, and critic Domenick Ammirati were all seen picking their way through the show-biz mob.

Exhibiting artists K8 Hardy and A. K. Burns were on hand, too, as was the curator of the event’s nonwearable visual component, Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy. Cuy and company had accepted a tough assignment in agreeing to incorporate McQueen’s designs. And some of their contributions, it must be admitted, looked a little lost, especially in the cavernous, industrially styled interior. But Daniel Peterson’s photographs of improvised drawings made on his own left hand had a childlike appeal, and a set of sculptures by Chris Caccamise, purportedly inspired by some of McQueen’s recent interviews, had a certain obscure fascination. Really though, the evening’s parade of high-end footwear boasted at least as much aesthetic (and even conceptual) appeal as the art its wearers strutted past.

Image: The Duke Spirit