A review by Jeff Horsley
Eckhaus Latta, established in 2011 by Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta is a US-based bi-coastal, collaborative creative practice. They debuted their first solo exhibition, Possessed, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in August 2018.
Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta met as students at Rhode Island School of Design. They set up Eckhaus Latta in 2011 and the brand, based in Los Angeles and New York and known for collaborations with artists, musicians and designers, reflects an increasing trend for practices that operate between the worlds of fashion and art.
Possessed was staged at the Whitney Museum of American Art in August 2018. The exhibition consisted of three sections: a series of large-format, back-lit images questioningly placing Eckhaus Latta products within the conventions of glossy fashion images; an operational retail environment with furniture, fittings and products supplied by regular Eckhaus Latta collaborators; and a darkened room featuring a bank of video surveillance screens on which visitors could voyeuristically observe the main installation space.
The exhibition entrance panel clearly explains Eckhaus Latta’s intention, through the exhibition, to examine ‘desire, consumption, and collaborative modes of creation through a linear progression of experiences.’ The main body of the installation, designed as ‘an operational retail environment’ invited customers/visitors to ‘touch, try on, and purchase clothing and accessories’ claiming that ‘unlike traditional museum displays of fashion on mannequins set at a distance from the viewer, the installation fosters intimate interaction with the garments.’
I interacted…and bought a sweatshirt: a re-purposed ‘Boundary Waters’ sweatshirt, turned inside out, the neck and wrists dipped in dye and a poetic text printed on the back. A label added to the inside denotes the garment as a ‘SPECIAL MUSEUM EXHIBITION PRODUCT’ and also features the date, location and title of the show from which it was bought. I’m not certain whether I questioned the dynamics of fashion consumption or was seduced into consuming? I’m not certain whether I experienced a new form of fashion exhibition or visited a shop? What I did consider was that Possessed (like Fashion After Fashion, Museum of Art and Design, New York, 2017 and Passer-by, Serpentine Gallery, London, 2018) potentially expands the field of fashion curation by critically engaging with the systems of fashion production and consumption as well as their resultant products.
3 August-8 October 2018
Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort Street, New York