The Tailor Retailored


An online exhibition-in-progress, The Tailor Retailored sets out to explore the evolving role of fashion in the work of IAIN BAXTER&, from the mid-1960s through the present. Inspired, in part, by sartorial metaphors deployed by media theorist Marshall McLuhan ("The Emperor's Old Clothes," etc.), fashion has consistently figured in the work of BAXTER& as a way of conceptualizing classificatory behaviours in everyday life. For instance, BAXTER&'s infamous "bags" invite reflection upon how we organize and compartmentalize our personal landscape in the Information Age. In keeping with this informational approach to clothing, as the curator of the present research album (and future exhibition) I have chosen Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus (1833-34) as an intertextual interface with the work of both BAXTER& and McLuhan. Setting the stage for BAXTER&'s subsequent Bagged Place (1966), Carlyle's visionary work of metafiction narrates the literary efforts of an anonymous Editor at work on a biography of Diogenes Teufelsdröckh, apocryphal philosopher of clothes and author of the tome Clothes: their Origin and Influence. An ill-sorted collection of Bags, containing the unpublished diaries and notes of Teufelsdröckh upon which Carlyle's Editor bases his biographical narrative, both shapes and constrains this editorial activity, suggesting parallels with the role of compilation in the practice of "Bagster" BAXTER& as well as with my own (non)categorical labour as co-editor of the Canadian artist's electronic catalogue raisonnéAppropriately, both Carlyle and BAXTER& choose a commodity--clothing--to visualize the (re)organization of consciousness and behaviour under the impact of--respectively 19th-century and 60s--consumer culture. In the same spirit, as e-Chair I have chosen a format (the catalogue raisonné) developed in the 18th century to describe and market luxury objects (artworks and sea shells) as a platform for investigating contemporary trends in librarianship as well as collecting and classification behaviours generally.

Adapting exhibition maker Jens Hoffmann's notion of "ephemeral curating" to an electronic environment, The Tailor Retailored will begin its life cycle as an e-phemeral "research album" that will grow and transform in unforeseeable directions through an open-ended, research-intensive process throughout 2011 and will eventually migrate to the "exhibitions" area of the raisonnE at a future (to-be-determined) date. 


curated Adam Lauder