Tenant of Culture

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United Kingdom

Soft Opening

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In the work of Tenant of Culture (ToC), the moniker for Hendrickje Schimmel’s artistic practice, the material and symbolic excretions of fashion consumption are presented in a fossilized state, suspended between archaeology and commodity. Much like trash, her works—assembled using discarded and recycled shoes, denim, jackets, belts, sweatpants, socks and hats—tell stories inchoately; there is the outline of a plot, but only in the form of a puzzle, fragments of an impossible history. The materials that the artist repurposes into extravagant and fashionable hybrids are both singular objects and the re ...

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To date, fashion has no comprehensive theory of waste. The landfill is the graveyard of redundant lifestyles—made up of discarded fabrics, copyright-protected, professionally “decommissioned” luxury goods, disposable high fashion and expurgated hand-me-downs. Before arriving there, they may circulate in the global secondary clothing market for some time, on eBay, in charity shops, or in yard sales, as valuable commodities marked by wear. Eventually, they are shipped around the world in bulk in the name of charity, or for the most cost-friendly disposal in developing countries, where they end up in en ...

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What ToC so successfully conveys is a heightened—dare I say ecological—awareness of consumer capitalism, its material footprint and forms of valorization, which inevitably leads the viewer back to the artist’s own context: contemporary art. What does it mean to ragpick from fashion’s waste pile and reintroduce such materials in a very different market of cultural goods—a market characterized by such different systems of material valorization, exchange and preservation? It almost seems like a joke, but perhaps also exemplary of our cultural system, that a discarded, mass-produced Nike ankle s ...

Text excerpts: Jeppe Ugelvig, Tenant of Culture, Ragpicker of Fashion History, Tenant of Culture (2020: Soft Opening & Charles Asprey, London)