The various mutations of the term grotesque

 

From the Italian term “grottesca”, which means cave fresco, definition and use of the term grotesque will mute through centuries. In 1532, it defines a “capricious ornaments”, and during the XVIe century it designates a caricatured or fantastic figure. Until those times, the expression is mainly used in the field of painting.

During the year 1636, in his book L’Illusion Comique, the French writer Corneille updates the signification of the word linking it to an idea of comical; “(…) causing laughing by its extravagance”. During the XVIIIe century, the Dictionary of French Academy defines it again under its pictorial aspect, explaining that a grotesque representation has one natural part and the other one chimerical.

The meaning continues to evolve through the decades and starts to figuratively nominate something or someone ridiculous, bizarre or extravagant. Nowadays, the dominant idea around grotesque is the one of extravagance; someone or something that lends to laugh by its incredible and eccentric characteristic, and also its bad taste.

There is embarrassment around the notion of grotesque facing the common desire to define it precisely without succeeding to do so.

It is by essence a hybrid word, its strength is to be constantly renewed, evolving and changing.

 

Hybridization disturbs, because it is creating something new, and very often changes and novelties are chocking.

 

Fashion, Collection, Fashion Show, Presentation

 

This is exactly what Hussein Chalayan did with the famous and so-called burqa collection. It’s a political statement about women’s rights and equality. Conceptually speaking, it is about breaking rules and conductively embracing cultural chaos, it that case we are talking about a very precise cultural background in some countries of the world.

 

 

We can put in comparison this statement about equality with the main characteristic of the carnival phenomenon. During this festivity everybody is put in the same level and everything is basically possible. Mikhaïl Bakhtine defines the term carnavalesque as a temporary inversion of hierarchies and values. He develops the idea of carnival as a strong expression of popular culture in its subversive dimension.

Here, Hussein Chalayan is unveiling the body of women to show orifices. He is revealing the social body, in which the natural should be eliminated, putting in evidence orifices, which are the opening self to the world, the connection between the internal and the external environment. The designer is hiding the face and showing the down part of the body; we recognize characteristics proper to the grotesque, the one of every possibility, inversions, and up side down.

Painting, Carnaval,

 

The grotesque is disturbing, because it’s cultivating contradictions and paradoxes.

 

In that sense it is able to break down the prejudiced and move walls of preconceived. It is interesting to have a different look on this collection considering this way of reaching a form a freedom of the body.

The Italian artist Francesco Albano also worked on the concept of grotesque with his sculpture of melting body. On this piece of work, the first thing we see is the orifice, our natural and animal part. We can interpret this shape as an animal in cage trying to escape, and as a metaphor of someone willing to break out from ones social body.

 

Art, Sculpture, Installation

 

This white and blank space made of neutrality reminds a dream, a fantasy in which everything is possible and where you can build your own world. A world that allows to invent a new reality made of paradoxes and hybridizations. A grotesque universe defined by Bakhtine as the unfinished metamorphose of death and birth, growth and becoming, always on the border between reality and imaginary.

Grotesque is forcing Art to integrate its own contradictions. It’s an anti-aesthetic.

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Au fil du temps, thoughs on knitwear.

 

If you’d ask me to define knitwear in one word, I would say without hesitating: Freedom. Freedom to create, freedom to evolve and change.

I discovered the world of knitwear 5 years ago, in Paris. I was just getting into my year off, after high school. It was a time when I truly felt I needed to occupied my hand.

I needed to give shape to what I had in mind, even though I didn’t even know what I had in mind at this period…

 

Knit, Wool, Yarn, Lifestyle

 

Really, I was already diving into a strong fashion atmosphere, staying into a 15 m2 one room studio in Neuilly-sur-Seine with my boyfriend at this time. Fabrics, materials, drawings, patterns…. They were all part of my everyday life. I had already integrated this entire world in my mind at a point that I couldn’t understand yet.

One day, I was walking around in the neighborhood Marché Saint Pierre in Montmartre, strolling through old and dusty fabrics, along with shiny and expensive ones. The paradise of textile lover, a place that really makes you feel like going to learn how to sew and make all your garments by yourself.

As I walked out from a shop, at a distance, I noticed a small shop selling wool and yarns; “Chatmaille”. Very curious, I decided to enter there and have a look. Soon enough, it was obvious for me that starting to knit would be the perfect thing to do.

 

Knitwear, wool, Needles, Circular needles

 

I needed something creative, here you go. You have a yarn, and with it you can create any garment you’d like, you are the one who chose how it will feel, the materials, the colour.

You conduct the yarn absolutely as you want and it that way you can create your own fabric.

 

Without speaking about the act of knitting in itself yet, but simply about seeing a stunning shell full of wool balls, gracefully organized by colour and style, this is already pure beauty, because I can see there the output of a long and fantastic process of spinning and dying…

Sheeps, Wool, Nature, Artisan

 Works of traditions and artisans.

 

I felt in love with materials, colours, and the infinite possibility of creation and versatility of this beautiful and chromatic world.