Photo by Tom Sibley
Barneys’ famous windows will bring the high-flying debate of art versus fashion to the people with the opening of five dynamic, site-specific installations on June 6. Conceived by Dakis Joannou, art collector, patron and founder of DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, and Dennis Freedman, Barneys creative director, the collaboration features five contemporary artists: photographer Juergen Teller, art-design partnership M/M (Paris), fashion designer Helmut Lang, poet Patrizia Cavalli and filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari (a still from the film she contributed this year is pictured above). Each created a work inspired by his or her past projects, and the result is a continuation of Destefashioncollection, an initiative by DESTE Foundation that explores the relationship between fashion, art and culture. We chatted with Freedman about this year’s approach.
Q: This project follows an established tradition of creative window treatments at Barneys. How do you strike a balance between the company—a high-fashion, ready-to-wear giant—and inspired one-of-a-kind artwork?
A: This window, unlike 90 percent of the others, doesn’t feature merchandise but is still a highly commercial window. I don’t think that’s in any way an obstacle to creativity. I worked at W for 15 years. Every collaboration with an artist dealt with fashion in one way or another; nothing is pure art here. But in the end it doesn’t matter, because I think the work is valid either way. The idea is to bring in many different voices.
Q: This year’s curator for Destefashioncollections, the young Greek filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari, is presenting one of the installations. What is she up to?
A: She did a film, shot in Idra. The extraordinary thing is how it’s being installed in the window. We have architects, engineers and designers creating a complex system of grids, drawings, mirrors and 3-D filters against a prototype three-dimensional television screen. As you walk past the window, the imagery will appear three-dimensional.
Q: Film and photography have a long-standing relationship with the fashion industry, but how does a poet like Patrizia Cavalli contribute?
A: I was intrigued by the idea of words and of poetry. Why do we have to look at a photograph? She wrote a poem about a Viktor & Rolf dress. Next to the dress, a printer, mounted on a stand, will print the poem—one word at a time—and the pages will fall to the floor. The window will fill with words.
June 6–July 4; 660 Madison Ave.; deste.gr.