The Big Squeeze celebrates both costume designers and makers as well as the re-opening of Broadway after being closed for so long due to COVID. Presented in the 10 Times Square lobby gallery, the exhibition features wearable art, photography, and a visual photo loop with work from a number of creative artisans from 13 different countries.
The corsets exhibited are not meant to constrain but to complement the wearer as an artistic expression or political statement meant to be seen. They highlight the artistry of the undervalued costume makers of the world. The costume makers create their art not only with textiles but with new hi-tech materials, and they incorporate all manner of found objects in a variety of creative sculptural ways. These artists design three-dimensionally, often letting the collected objects inspire the creation while they maintain a malleable connection to the chosen subject or theme. They are striking for their ingenuity and often favor repurposing materials made for very different circumstances. For example, Mio Guberinic’s Neon Orange is created from objects found in a hardware store, and Antoaneta Tica’s Splash is made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.
Different items were intentionally linked in order to provoke discussion. In the elevator alcove is a red and black leather corset made by Dark Garden Corsetry for Cathie Jung and Nika Danielska’s Exoskeleton Bra. These are displayed along with two male corsets and Chie Ono’s Blood Red. The two male corsets seem hardly more than cummerbunds, but Cathie Jung has reshaped herself through years of tight-lacing to hold the current record for the smallest waist at 15 inches. In contrast, Nika Danielska’s Exoskeleton Bra provides an armored protection for the fragile body. It references the warrior woman, exuding feminine power and strength, but it is also an uncomfortable bra with underwires taking over, caging and constraining the breasts while rendering them dangerous to touch. Chie Ono’s performance art piece turns a glamorous ensemble into Blood Red.
Dragana Vucetic’s Clear Vinyl Orthopedic Corset can be compared to the nude leather torso titled Broken Woman, by Olivera Gajic. The vinyl, seemingly without structure, actually pushes the shoulders back and strengthens the backbone with multiple spines, referencing her superpower. Conversely, the leather Broken Woman is totally unstructured, with nothing holding it together emotionally, figuratively or mentally. This is a tribute to the current woman broken from abuse, but she is being stitched back together to survive another day. Katarzyna Konieczka’s corsets give a nod to the bionic woman in the Crash Collection photos but, in different instances, show the torturous use of medical appliances to gain bodily perfection.
Acknowledgement goes to the A. A. Bakhrushin Theatre Museum in Moscow who, in 2019, hosted an exhibition titled, Innovative Costume of the 21st Century focusing on young designers from 47 countries and gave copyright permission for ZAZ10TS to show seven of those designers’ images first discovered by Artistic Director Igor Roussanoff and Head Curator Susan Tsu.
Thanks also to the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) director Jessica Kinsey for sharing items from The Corset as Art, curated by Laura Crow. That exhibition was commissioned by Frank Mack, Producer of the Utah Shakespeare Festival as an enhancement for their production of Intimate Apparel. The exhibition followed the evolution of corsets through the 19th century and onto tight lacing, burlesque, and fashion into a contemporary art form. The Big Squeeze acknowledges those conceptual artists, craft artisans, and ingenious designers who have taken corsetry to another level.
The Big Squeeze complete list of Artists can be found Here.
The Big Squeeze: The Corset as Art will be on view to November 28, 2021 at 10 Times Square.
While you’re there, step around the corner to view several exhibits, indoors and out, presented by Garment District Alliance, including Hacer: Transformation; the enormous Inside Out: NY Together; and the new exhibition in the Kaufman Building, Stu.pe.fac.tion by local artist, Joanne Handler.