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Oh, That Dress!

6. October 2020 — 7. February 2021
Esterházyho palác, Bratislava
Curator: Viera Kleinová

The Slovak National Gallery will again be dressing up! Following our 2017 exhibition Sew Long! which featured an extensive look at fashion in socialist Czechoslovakia, contemporary fashion practice and support of live art take center stage in our current project entitled Oh, That Dress!

Formal dresses, the flagship of fashion design, in particular the work of Slovak fashion designers, will be launched in the gallery waters. And although contemporary fashion looks upon dress codes with scorn, clothing for special events - be they opera balls, Met Galas, weddings or graduation parties, requires the intensive attention of the designer and the wearer. The formal dress format is hedonistic, pompous and loud, yet for the designer it is his/her essential profile testimony.

The stimulus of the idea of showing this side of fashion and presenting, for the first time, a strong group of Slovak fashion designers, just recently occurred to us in the form of a new donation. Thanks to the generosity of the Tatra Banka Foundation, the SNG's applied arts and design collection has been enhanced by this outstanding array of dresses that were featured in the Tatra Banka Foundation's Award Ceremonies. The dresses are the work of famous names as well as up and rising stars of the Slovak fashion scene; their task was to design a dress for a moderator/muse of a special evening event Adela Vinczeová. The powerful fashion lineup showcasing the big names and rising stars of the Slovak fashion scene, is supported at this exhibition by creators of jewelry objects and the graphic and textile design of dresses.

"We are greatly honored that the Slovak National Gallery accepted our donation of ten designer gowns of artwork value. The dresses were created over the past ten years of the Tatra Banka Foundation Art Award Ceremony as a visually powerful artistic element within the staging of the gala evening. From the very beginning, our intent was to build a unique collection of formal dresses created by the best Slovak fashion designers on haute couture principles for a single special evening. The fact that these dresses will become part of the Slovak National Gallery collection is a dream come true for us, and a guarantee that they will be preserved for present and future generations." Milada Halová, member of the board of directors of the Tatra Banka Foundation and director of Tatra Banka's brand management division.

We also combine the theme of formal dress with a rich digital excursion through the fine art collection and archives of the Slovak National Gallery, and through clues such as dress, gala, muse, glamour, ball and dress code, we peek into mondain French fashion, and "show" evening gowns of Slovak Realism and Modernism, the attire of non-conformist muses and wedding and prom divas in the dresses of their lives.

This exhibition project is accompanied by a series of original photographs of eleven dresses created by ten fashion designers. Photographer Martin Deko (SNG) placed the model, Katarína Sido (SNG) and the dresses in the SNG's provisional warehouse at the Hurbanove kasárňe - an environment bursting with art. Suggestive combinations and contrasts - art showing through protective layers in the shadows of their temporary home marked by time along with contradictory, live and new elements also inspired the creators and designers of the exhibition set.

Sustainability is a theme that strongly resonates in today's fashion. Designers refuse to quickly create single-use items, and we consider principles such as slow, upcycling, re-design, ethics and ecology so topical and important that we decided to apply them within the Ó, šaty! exhibition module. Instead of creating new, single-use exhibition props, we use and recycle packing materials, objects and furniture from the warehouse in the exhibition's staged "environment" which combines the old and the new, the temporary and the permanent, the precious and the banal.

We also comment on and interpret this specific and unique acquisition of dresses in the gallery by applying theater and mapping methods in cooperation with theater and TV stage designer Juraj Kuchárek and graphic designer and multi-media artist Ján Šicko, who also created the exhibition's visual identity and the graphic design of the accompanying guidebook.

Graphic design, mapping: Ján Šicko

Exhibition scenography: Juraj Kuchárek
Photos of the dresses: Martin Deko (SNG)

Model: Katarína Sido (SNG)

Visage: Tomáš Vida

Designers: Maja Božović Bažik, Pavol Dendis, Boris Hanečka, Marcel Holubec W., Martin Hrča, Lukáš Krnáč, Michaela Ľuptáková, Andrea Chrastinová Pojezdálová, Lenka Sršňová, Mária Štraneková

Design/ artistic collaboration: Lucia Babjaková, Mariana Berecová, Marian Hornyák, Ondrej Jób, Katarína Ondrejková/ Ojka, Kristýna Španihelová

Ján Šicko (1977)
Multimedia surfer and, among others, a graphic designer and teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, where he founded and is the head of MediaLab* ― a specialized environment exploring borderline spheres of visual communication. He is the creator of interactive installations, audiovisual performances and computer games, a VJ, operating under the name DevKid.@, recipient of the Slovak National Design Award and long-distance runner.

Juraj Kuchárek (1984)
Theater, film and television stage designer, architect of numerous ceremonies and festive events, currently CE ZA AR (Architecture Award), Slnko v sieti (Sun in the Net Award), Pamiatky a múzeá (Monuments and Museums). He found recognition in Slovak and Czech theaters, including the Czech and Slovak "national stages" and is a recipient of the Dosky Award for stage design for Slovak National theaters. The Ó, šaty (Oh That Dress) exhibition was his maiden voyage in the gallery waters.

Martin Deko (1978)
Photographing art is his domain at the Slovak National Gallery. To a great extent he mediates life and events in the gallery through the lens of his camera. For the project Ó, šaty (Oh That Dress) he left the Carthusian loneliness of his studio and the peaceful company of collection items for the dizzying gymnastics of live fashion photography.

Viera Kleinová
Art historian. She is a contemporary applied arts and design theoretician, curator and popularizer, and a permanent presence at events featuring designer jewelry, ceramics, glass, wood, textile, and the history of applied arts and stage design of the 20th century.


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