Reading the article on Clothing to Dye for which looks at how much water is used to dye textiles, and how the used water is the number one pollutant to the Environment, its devastating to realize the full impact its had on already marginalised people, for example in part lies in Tirupur, India,
Local dye houses have long dumped wastewater into the local river, rendering groundwater undrinkable and local farmland ruined. Despite tougher regulations, a watchful local press, and the closure of companies in non-compliance, water pollution has festered. The city’s 350,000 residents, not multinational textile companies, pay the price.
Reading on about how much more water and dye is needed to colour synthetic materials such as polyester, it makes you wonder, why anyone would want anything made out of polyester in the first place?
Synthetics textiles hold a nastier fate for the Earth, in the form of microplastics. Even after the garment has been manufactured with dye stuff and pollutants, probably made in a factory with unlivable wages, maybe by children, it is sold and worn, and continues to pollute the water every time you wash it. Up to 1,900 plastic microfibers enters the water from one garment, every single wash.
Of course natural materials have a negative impact as well, the chemical pesticides and water needed to grow cotton for example alsongside dangerous fibers sometimes inhaled by workers, aren’t ideal, but compared to synthetics, they are a better choice.
Companies which recycle plastics into fibers and garments hoped to do good for the environment, but it looks as if they are causing more harm.
While Patagonia and other outdoor companies, like Polartec, use recycled plastic bottles as a way to conserve and reduce waste, this latest research indicates that the plastic might ultimately end up in the oceans anyway – and in a form that’s even more likely to cause problems.
There are articles writen up to 6 years ago, warning about the dangers of plastic in fish, but its far more advanced, plastic is in the water we drink, the food we each, and probably the air we breath.
Is it too late? Have we crossed the event horizon? How far does it have to go, until these mega companies actually care about the future of the earth instead of buying another super yatch?
Organic natural fibers, natural dyes, slow fashion, awareness and prevention.
Sustainability in textiles means not only to maintain stable manufacturing process with as little impact on the environment, but improve the lives of workers by providing a living wage, with good working conditions, a long-term solution which is eco and human friendly.
A company has to be profitable to work, but this doesn’t mean it should exploit its workers or the environment. The third richest man on earth owns H&M, probably the fastest fashion store on the high street, by manufacturing in India and Asia, it sells dresses for as little as £4.50. With those margins, H&M produces 600 million garments a year, a pair of jeans alone uses 1500 litres of water alone to produce. How much oil, pesticides, electricity is used, adding to global warming, and water/earth pollution? H&M may not be the worst, and they make noise about being sustainable by redeeming your old clothes for store credit. I see this as a marketing ploy to get more customers in the door.
Big brands are not only to blame, the consumers are at fault, by demanding cheap prices, at the same time being influenced by the fashion industry who dictate a change with the seasons. Fast Fashion relies on a consumer, who want to change their look from month to month.
I have no problem with Fashion, but I wouldn’t never let it tell me what is “In Style.” If individuals acted more like individuals, with their own “look” being influenced by classic timeless clothing which always looks great by working with their body type, letting their personality shine through, fast fashion would not exist.
The glossy magazines never tell you to try to look unique by shopping at charity shops, their narrative only includes names, most of which, no one can afford. Top shop and other high street names simply replicate these designs at a reasonable price.
Personaly, I am proud to say I can count on one hand the garments I’ve bought in a mall or from a high street, aside from pants and bras bathing suits, in 5 years. I always shop Vintage/ Charity shops, or make my own, of course. I remember how liberated I felt when I finally found my style, a look which worked with my body type. Since then, I know exactly what I want to buy, and am never persuaded by rich brands.
I believe strongly in the distribution of money, where am I spending, how can it affect the people/ Earth in a positive way, oppose to a negative. Of course, I know what it is like being on the other end, being an independent seller. I depend of on-line marketing (which I am pants at) and word of mouth… I find it challenging even talking about what I make. I prefer being a modest, quiet maker — but that doesn’t sell clothes.
Marketing exploits people’s vulnerabilities, making them feel as though buying something will make them happier. I don’t really believe in this. I believe in intelligent design based products, hand-made preferably, durable, useful, and timeless. If the fast fashion shoppers saved their £4.50 each week, they could buy 3 beautiful garments a year, from an independent designer, which I am positive, they would wear every week. There would never be crumpled up unwanted clothes at the back of the closet, but garments would be hung with pride to bring confidence to the wearer by fitting beautifully.
There are a few points in your life, when you think, I’m on the right path, I followed the correct sign post, and it has directed me to this incredible place, with a spectacular view. Reading through the projects of Part 5 — Textiles; Sustainability / Hand-made / Art based pretty much sums up what I am striving for everyday, in and outside of this course, towards my BA.
This is what I’ve been working towards this last 2.5 years, my shop, called
Sustainability — I only use pre-loved textiles; vintage lace and trims / ethnic heirloom indigo batik and embroidered hand-woven hemp (made by Dao and H’mong women) / embroidered table clothes & napkins — the only fabric I use that is new is GOTS certified 100% Organic cotton, un-bleached and natural.
Hand-made — I try and make as much as I can myself, although I have a tailor, Hoa and her mother, to help me with some tailored shirts and to replicate original Victorian garments, such as bloomers, nighties, corset covers, and dresses. I have not got the 50 years of experience these women have on a machine, they are incredible.
I make all of the one of a kind pieces, blouses, tops and boro inspired skirts.
Art based design — Using fabric paints, I delicately re-create Kilburn and Morris inspired floral designs on tops and dresses, using traditional Brush Painting techniques, originating in Japan and China, using the same brushes, which I have practiced since 2002.
The Story behind my work — (copied from my website)
« Perhaps you’ve come to tell us, don’t forget, the old is new again, each birth enriching aged ol’ earth. »
– by Richard Work,
from his poem “To Five Day Old Alyssa Jeanne,
from her grandfather whom she hasn’t seen”
These words have stuck with me through the years, in everything I have done, the decisions I have made, the friends I have loved, and my appreciation for the old.
To me it means everything that has come before, should be cherished and remembered; ancestry, heirlooms, books, suitcases, songs,typewriters, letters, paintings,textiles, crockery, photographs. They hold the key to the past, when people past down skills from generation to generation, when objects were artfully crafted with such detail and care, never thrown out, like sadly, many things are today.
We are so quick to look forward, we forget to look back.
Like the sharing of folk songs, or following a family recipe, this world is so full of past beauty we need to share and bring into the present.
We need to create to keep our spirits alive, a bit of ourselves to be remembered by future generations, leaving something behind by sharing it.
I want to find the cross roads between art and design, to make more than something you hang on your wall, to integrate it with slow fashion/design movements, to improve with every piece I make, with the help of this course, I hope to look further into how I can progress, and perhaps sell enough pieces to make a living as a working artist/designer… that is the dream, right?
Part 4, photography, gave me a chance to explore my love for this medium, and better understand why a photography isn’t considered Art, a topic I’m sure I won’t let go of, but will revisit. There were many challenges I found when researching, then writing about photographers work, as I felt like the bodies of work, such as a photo book, hold more truth, than one photograph, and without having that book in front of me, the pictures on the screen felt temporary. It’s tricky discussing what you think of a photograph without knowing the larger context. There were many photographers mentioned, some blurred into each other, many whose work I didn’t resonate with, such as the land artist, self burial, and the first woman on the moon.
The portion of Part 4 which I loved, was looking at the photography of Robert Frank, Alec Soth, and Paul Graham, on documenting journeys. I realize this is only an introduction to photography, but I thought it a shame photojournalism wasn’t touched upon, and would have been a far more interesting subject, than say, landscape photography. I did find new photographers such as Mitch Epstein, whose work powerfully portrayed a sense of place, capturing remarkable details in India and Vietnam.
I felt inspired to research photo labs in HCM, and found a tiny little shop, full of young budding Vietnamese photographers who sell and develop film. We have two amazing film cameras, an automatic Yashica T4, with a Tesser lense, and a Contax. I have taken a few landscape photographs for project 3, and took inspiration from Bernd & Hilla Bercher’s water towers, although mine are not of industrial buildings, I do love the precision of framing/distance/lighting in reproducing like images in a grid. Will have to wait for the photographs to be developed.
I have tried to tie photography with other creative projects, such as my clothing I make and paint, and even got a model to help. Being inspired by the light and colour of Vanitas paintings, here a few pictures from the photo shoot.
Photography is an essential tool to any creative practice, as it documents and shares work to a larger audience, whether online, in a magazine, or a book. Without it, geographically speaking, it would be almost impossible to view the work otherwise.
It’s important not to view a camera as simply a tool, because the same elements of art apply when framing, lighting, lines, compositon/balance, texture, line, perspective, and form, are paramount.
Photography is a form of self expression, the way each of us see the world around us, what stands out, the smallest detail, the larger picture, do we see linearly, or directly. Do we have a personal relationship with a place that no one else can see, or does a photograph of someone you love, in that second, remind you of what you thought in that moment?
I really enjoyed researching an writing about Louise Lawler’s work, a modest feminist who has taught me to stand to the side of arts influence, never letting the ego of an artist work depicts it’s importance, but instead ask the questions no one is asking.
I will continue to take photographs and update my learning log until the end of this course, and always photography as a tool of self expression, to show the ways I see.
Louise Lawler Photography and its relationship with the art world.
By Alyssa J. Maddalozzo
Photography’s role in the art world has been questioned since the invention of the camera. Are pictures just an imprint of light, or are the a tool used by an artist, to create art? In this assignment we were asked to explore an artist who uses photography as an element of their practice, which isn’t often that apparent. I have decided instead to research a photographer whose art would not exist if her photograph were not conceived. I want to demonstrate the necessity of the camera, the relationship it has between her creative aspects, and the message it conveys.
Louise Lawler is a photographer from the “Picture Generation” whose work has transcended images, words, sound, scale and perception. Lawler interrogates where art is located, it’s place — how it is seen, by looking at art, as the subject.
In 1981, Louise Lawler took a photograph of a match book printed with the words “why pictures now.” Nearly 36 years later, the photograph is the title of her new exhibition at MoMA which reviews her work in the present moment, retrospectively, by re-appropriating her own photographs. There is little doubt that Lawler thought the question she had asked in 1981 needed to be asked again.
Louise Lawler’s art would not exist without her camera. Her early work consisted of photographing iconic works such as Pollock and Warhol in unconventional ways, focusing on the location of the piece, standing to the side and changing the view, by shifting the power and questioning the influence of the original art work. Lawler’s titles talk back to the viewer, challenging their relationship with art, as individuals. Lawler’s presence in the art world, although often in the background, has never been questioned, but has been championed as an unsung feminist and activist.
The question is, what differentiates Lawler from other photographers, whose work wouldn’t be considered art?
Lawler’s inclusion in the “Picture Generation” has had a great deal to do with the context and the titles of her photographs, with hints of Deconstructionists ideas (literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth). Because Lawler’s titles make you consider a larger context, they critique the art world, and challenge the subject of Art. Her photographs are considered art because she is an artist, and proves this through many collaborations with artist of the time, in many exhibitions such as Winer and Janelle Reiring commercial gallery Metro Pictures in Soho.
By photographing her ready-mades, such as printed matchbooks and napkins, she echoed Duchamp, at the same time revealing the vulnerability of famous male artists, such as Jasper Jones, photographing his monogramed bed-spread, otherwise known as a liberal neo-dada, she questions his class and taste.
Lawler’s photography is about art, but if it wasn’t, would her photography be considered art? Did she find a loop-hole in the art world? Her art would not exist without her camera, but the photograph would not be considered art, if not correlated with the art world.
Lawler’s relationship between the creative aspects of her art is one of reciprocation, how one interprets the other. Lawler invites the viewer to question how they see corresponding realities, by enlarging a photograph to a monumental scale, them reducing the same image the peep-hole size in form of a paper weight. She reforms her image in different formats including mechanical reproduction of tracings, for example:
Pollock and Tureen (Traced) – Louise Lawler, 1984/2013
Lawler conveys many messages through her photographs and art. Her distorted photograph called “Pollyanna (adjusted to fit, distorted for the times)” has changed 4 times since 2007 – 2017. The newest version is a comment on fake news, and how politics today are distorting the truth.
She invites us the stand to the side of a painting, to release us from its circuit of influence, seeing how ego, power, and money influence commercial art. She frees the viewer from the icon, shifting our focus to a larger context such as women’s role in a male dominated (art) world, the value of art, and the location in which we see it by looking past the usual borders.
“in which she gives special attention to all the connecting tissue that holds and frames it: walls, floors, hallways, storage units, workers’ hands.” The New Yorker
Lawler invites you into her work unpretentious by acknowledging “but does anyone, know anything by comparison.”
So why Pictures now? Lawler’s new exhibition is based on the present, but echos the past. She has caught up with the digital age by demonstrating how her pictures have changed into images, reforming them to be seen again, differently, in beautifully aesthetic ways.
Lawler’s work portrays time and place within a history of reception, for example, Lawler’s photograph “War is Terror” a response to Bush’s “War on terror,” bringing it to the now. The photograph is of a framed portrait of Julia Margaret Cameron hanging above a bed, she is one of the earliest woman photographers to receive critical acclaim, born 1869. Her niece Julia Jackson, is mother to Vanessa Bell, the painter, and the anti-war author, Virginia Wolf. Lawler uses contemporary photography by placing an emphasis on the matriarchal lineage of a family of powerful women.
Daniel Crimp sums up Lawler’s art by saying:
Lawler’s work since 1981, however, has demonstrated that photographs can be used more effectively than, say, a matchbook to make us see art—and art as an institution—differently. What Lawler’s photographs have shown is that institutional critique not only may be leveled at the impulse toward making pictures—“Why pictures now?”— but can take the form of a picture.
Perhaps Lawler was considered an artist because her subject, to begin with, was art, photography was merely the tool she used to communicate. She has proven that although she was a photographer first and still is, she went on to explore many different forms of media including sound and vision, and messages such as feminism, anti-war and politics, always staying present by reciprocating the past. Lawler never gave the art world a reason to question her role as an artist, because she always stayed a step ahead. Lawler’s work answers the question, not if photography is art, but why photography is art, with pictures, and being a consistently great artist who has reinvented her art since 1981 until now.
Indirect Answers Douglas Crimp On Louise Lawler why Pictures now, 1981. available at
When I first was looking for an artist to write about for assignment 4, I wanted to find someone who was a photographer first, to question again what makes an artist, their medium (tool) or them, themself? I was put off that we were not asked to write about a photographer, but instead write about an artist who uses art as a tool for creativity.
After some research I came upon the “Picture Generation” and in particular a women artists, whose work explores the way we see art, questioning art itself, as well as the institution, and those involved, which at the time of the 80’s was male heavy.
Louise Lawler came into the lime light with her ambiguous photographs of famous art works, paying more credit to their surrounding, than to their content. The context of how we see them, frames differently with walls, or floors or homes as the borders, instead of a perfect rectangle/square postcard which we normally see them.
Her titles hold equal importance, which she seems to be talking back to the viewer, asking us to question everything.
She made it as a women photographer, but I wonder if, if she didn’t have the access to these homes, because of her artists friends, would her photographs be still considered art, if they didn’t hold important art works as their subject?
She is well known for collaborating with many artist, and has not held a solo exhibition in New York until now. Is she extremely modest, or has she relied of the work of others to bring her photography up to the high brow status to be accepted as one a women artist, and two, a women artist who has used photography as her main tool of creativity.
I do not believe she intentional thought this, again, I believe it’s the institution of art who only allowed Louise to flourish because of her subject matter, which at the beginning, was cleverly taking the piss out of the art world, and the men (who were her friends) involved.
Of course not all her work includes feminism and art, she goes on to explore more modern-day questions such as war and politics no drones, war is terror, grieving mothers.
The reconstituting of images is really where he strengths are. She has inspired so many artists to re-think the typical gallery images and challenge ways of presenting work.
While researching Lawler, I was inspired by her photograph of Warhol’s round Marilyn.
This photograph was taken by Lawler at Sotheby’s auction house, with the auction card/price tag next to the piece. I’m not sure if it’s message about buying/selling art, the cost of art, or simply the title, Does Marilyn Monroe make you cry?
At Lawler’s new exhibition at MoMA, WHY ART NOW, she replicate the same photograph (which is in turn the same size at the original round Marilyn) on the opposite side of the room, with the title “Does Andy Warhol make you cry?”
In the fashion and inspiration of Lawler, here is my take on her photograph, by taking picture of her Warhol being sold by Sotheby’s, again Lawler’s photograph (which is under copyright) being auctioned again – lots sold at twice the expected amount!
Here is another photograph of my computer screen of an auction of shoes, which the title “New Shoes, blue shoes, red and pink shoes, tell me what would you choose if you were to buy” #5 of a limited edition
Here is another photograph of my computer screen, looking at an image on the New Yorker’s website about Lawler’s photograph of Warhol’s priceless screen prints, sitting on the floor. I really loved the colours of key board and pop art.
Exercise 3 asks you to think about views, taken from ground level, from above — birds eye view.
The two images, one of a rural area and the other of a city, have the same tilt of the lens, angled downward. They each survey the land, demonstrating divisions either of hedges, or roads, cross sections. One is in colour, the one of the country side, showing plowed dirt fields in contrast to one green field in the corner. The view is from a Castle, a tower perhaps.
The cityscape is in black and white, it feel cold and impersonal, with no detail standing out amongst the sprawl of buildings and streets.
Looking at John Davies photograph of Agecroft Power station, the images would change significantly if it were taken from ground level, as I don’t believe he’d capture as much information in one frame without compromising the composition. The angle at which the 4 towers are inline creates scale and depth. The cylinders would look different from below and may not show the smoke billowing in the same way. If the photograph were to be taken any closer you’d lose the framing of the trees for scale, and if it were taken further away, any details in the background would diminish.
Here are some photograph I have taken of landscapes, although narrow landscapes, cityscapes, from above, from different angles, and view points.
It was quite funny taking photographs in a very popular place… an art gallery with levels of containers, creating different view points.
Notes on Louise Lawler — Assignment 4
New exhibition is called “Why Pictures Now” – was an early title for a photograph she took in 1981 of a matchbox in an ashtray with the title writen on it
NOW -present moment
PICTURES Louise came from the “Pictures Generation” – Artist Space (still and moving images and appropriation to reveal function of represention)
Why – always questioning
Digital vs film – Image and pictures are now different – what happens to pictures in a digital age?
challenges retrospective impulse
reformating her own images (original photographs)
questioning the viewers relationship with the image
re-appropriating her images
looking at ART as the subject – pictures about pictures
interrogating where art is place/location/ where it is seen – as a subject
how one medium interpretes each other
ex. Jasper Jones – monogram bed sheets denotes class + taste (his art resists the notions of taste as an artist) –
how museums auction houses place the work in context of presentation, history of how it is received
considers a larger content – history of reception
how individuals relate to the perticular of the work – eye of the beholder
using identical images with different titles – asking the viewer how they feel – ex. Warhols round Marilyn. “Does Marilyn/Warhol make you cry”?
criticises the art world – in a humorous way / witty/ sly feminist work of ‘Bird calls’ – twitters names — male patrionic artist of the time.
modest – Lawler resisted a solo exhibition until now
feminist/political/anti war values – no drones, war is terror, greiving mothers
uses microscopic to monumental scaled to fit – willfully distorting – deconstruction s
twisted photogragh ” Pollyanna adjusted to fit – distorted for times – alternative facts discourse – post truth era, to fit the reality in which we live.
concise images – beautifully constructed
how lighting can distort the work / how casual art work on the floor, oppose to hanging on the wall makes us feel different
aesthetics of presentation and image – highly visually exciting
generosity towards other artists – always incorperating others into her work
has a direct dialogue with her photographs – reinventing them with tracings mechanical reproduction
the importance of the arrangement of pictures
multi voiceness – resonated, one or others speak together at the same time
Lawler talks back at you
feminist viewpoints – how we value what we see ex bird calls
corresponding reality – confirm, realised and released
“emotion of freedom” R.H.Q
slight shift of focus
change of vision – EGO POWER of a famous painting (regarding male artists of the time “Standing to the side of its circuit of influence” R.H Quaytman
“But does anyone know anything by comparison” L.L.
“Art world is a hallucination” R.H Quaytman
Commercial art / institutional context
“Human life – it’s all about the different – un-particular” L.L
Next we explore to what extent photography is neccesary in Lawlers work, the message Lawler is trying to convey, the relationship between the creative aspects of her work, relating in back to the themes time and place.
Research point — the New Topographics
Humans vs Nature
Documenting Landscapes through photography TIME/PLACE…
William Jenkins, curator of a group show of American landscape, would have foreseen these images as just the beginning, knowing they would hold much value in the details they’d present in the future. A man altered landscape which now, unfathomable, was once nature, desert, forests.
I am reminded by this where I live in HCM, a little branch of the city, which was once mangrove forests, swap land, palms and rivers. There was a similar area, just down the road, which is now sub-divided into plots for high rises. The streets are unfamiliar, only after 4 months, the dirt lanes are not pot hole ridden memories of the old route into town.
I now wish I had taken more photographs to document the quick changes and expansion of concrete and infrastructure. I have a friend who has lived here for 13 years, and tells me when the area was full of villages, similar to the Mekong delta, where you could row through the waterways, sharing them with water buffalo.
I really enjoyed Mitch Epstein’s series on Vietnam, and although it was shot in the 90’s, it looks as though it was the 60’s, demonstrating, how still today, they seem to be decades behind (which is painful listening to 90’s hits such as Celine Dion, and Brian Adams).
I also really enjoyed Epstein’s series on tree in New York, which is a real comment on human’s relationship with trees, they almost take on a life of their own, the grandeur overshadowing any tiny, insignificant person.
Fay Godwin’s “Our Forbidden Land” is a beautifully shot series, acknowloging the fact that there is so much nature which is cut off from humans, fences keeping you away from views, landowners with shot guns, and gates with “KEEP OFF’ signs. Are we only allowed in parks? Why are we restircted, what harms does walking do, enjoying the world around us. Sure there are publc bridal ways, but why there are so much we cannot see.
Any photo work which documents the past, gains value year after year. These ideas which look at humans relationship with the environment, will only become more relevent with global warming, big companies, polution, urban sprawl, and continued consumption, and discarding.