Installation View: Generation Jeans, group exhibition "Wohnraum / Büro", Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne, 1993
Photos: Andrea Stappert, Wilfried Petzi
Jeans are fashion’s timeless, international standard. They are an archetype belonging to ”youth”. A supplied, androgenous uniform. These aspects are soon demanded, by the way the body of each individual user is evidenced as the passing on time on the surface; ”wearing down”, ”ripped”. Fashion in consumer society emphasizes renewal and disposability. As youth promoted jeans as an emblem, an individual icon to sustain and uphold, an accessory appeared - Patches - to apply to what should have been ”old and worn out”.
The patch is an applied ”sign”. It repairs the weak construction. It amends the androgynous, archetypal qualities of the original design, because necessity requires they be utilized not just on the knees, but on the undersides of the ass and the crotch. Patches are like innocent reflectors, from the individual, moving from child through adolescence, plays not always ambivalently with the discovery of the unacknowledged, hidden cracks in the proposed ”fixed” social construction - such as ”sex” or ”gender”. Jeans reveal that, at one point, the pleasure of this solid icon might be that its composite material is in constant danger of falling apart. The older the jeans, the more stress in wear on the seams, the more patches,over patches, over … but it ends when the limits are overstepped (there must be proportionally more material than patches).
What do these ”youth icons” mean when brought into the reflection of the family? The Generation-Jeans, like the family, is more than just an archetype or pragmatic construction. It also functions as a symbolic narrative - expressed within the family and outwards to community. Disposability here means the child. The growth of each individual child represents the continuity and reproduction of the family. The Generation-Jeans with its patches reaffirms this type of interconnectivity as a social display. But with these jeans the child ambivalently displays two kind of signs: the offer of an unlimited choice of individual signification - patch imagery; and, over time, the repetitive fact that the unnoticed seams of the archetype are ripping under constant pressures and must be reinforced.
For this edition, the jeans are sold with their use as well as display in mind. For display, the jeans are left lying around as if just removed from the body it clothes. The question of the absent body is provocative. The last aspect of the work tries to bring in an important context concerning the archetypal jeans related to a context. The unacknowledged assumptions concerning gender and point of view, in that, for instance, classically the body of man is paralleled to architecture, the interior is relegated to woman.
Text: Regina Maria Möller, 1993
"Generation Jeans" has been initially created for the exhibition "Wohnraum / Büro" at Gallery Christian Nagel, Cologne, 1993
Costumized / produced upon request
© Regina Maria Möller, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn