Chalayan is an artist and designer, working in film, dress and installation art. Research Chalayan’s work, and then consider these questions in some thoughtful reflective writing.
1. Chalayan’s works in clothing, like Afterwords (2000) and Burka (1996) , are often challenging to both the viewer and the wearer. What are your personal responses to these works? Are Afterwords and Burka fashion, or are they art? What is the difference?
Hussein Chalayan, Burka (1996) (99
6Hussein Chalayan, Afterwords, 2000
2. Chalayan has strong links to industry. Pieces like The Level Tunnel (2006) and Repose (2006) are made in collaboration with, and paid for by, commercial business; in these cases, a vodka company and a crystal manufacturer. How does this impact on the nature of Chalayan’s work? Does the meaning of art change when it is used to sell products? Is it still art?
Hussein Chalayan, still from Absent Presence, 2005 (motion picture)
4. Many of Chalayan’s pieces are physically designed and constructed by someone else; for example, sculptor Lone Sigurdsson made some works from Chalayan’s Echoform (1999) and Before Minus Now (2000) fashion ranges. In fashion design this is standard practice, but in art it remains unexpected. Work by artists such as Jackson Pollock hold their value in the fact that he personally made the painting. Contrastingly, Andy Warhol’s pop art was largely produced in a New York collective called The Factory, and many of his silk-screened works were produced by assistants. Contemporarily, Damien Hirst doesn’t personally build his vitrines or preserve the sharks himself. So when and why is it important that the artist personally made the piece?