Milan Design Week kicked off today and, if you're in town, in between one thing and the other you should check out the exhibition "From Foot to Head", by the MA Fashion and Textile Design students at Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti Milano (NABA). You think you may not have the time? Impossible: this event is indeed part of the Fuorisalone and is on view at Galleria Artepassante, an art space located at the underground entrance of Viale Tunisia/Corso Buenos Aires, so that you can even have a quick look at it while running and rushing around.
"From Foot to Head" was inspired by the NABA lecturer (and former fashion designer) Cinzia Ruggeri and curated by Aldo Lanzini, MA Fashion and Textile Design Course Leader, and Luca Belotti, academic assistant.
The idea behind the event was to offer all the students taking part in it the possibility of leaving a trace, a sign or a message: they all did so by focusing on different techniques and coming up with garments or accessories that physically or conceptually leave their footprint in this unique underground space.
The students from this international course (they do come from all over the world...) tried to come up with hand-made projects that allowed them to reach out to the passers-by and reveal bits and pieces of their identities and personalities through designs that reunite traditional skills and techniques from their home countries with new technologies and with a passion for storytelling they borrowed from Ruggeri herself.
Garments and accessories turn therefore not into shadows of the students who made them, but into clues to unlock their personalities: the metal net and threads of "Cage" by Jiajun Emmie Wang (China) may at first call to mind the iconic 1940s artwork "Concavo-Convesso" (Concave-Convex) by Bruno Munari, but it actually reveals Wang's passion for dichotomic combinations of dark and light moods.
Though the title of the artwork and the metal thread employed to make it point towards desperation and confinement, the ethereal shadows the object casts on the walls surrounding it will make many passers-by think of seeing a dancer pirouetting in the air.
Quite a few students worked on conceptual footwear: inspired by their memories and by intimate symbols, some came up with footwear made with soft PVC ruffles naively covered in googly eyes; others scarily locked in glass boxes shaped like shoes feet borrowed from a skeleton.
One of the most interesting things about this event is the space where it was developed: the Artepassante Gallery is indeed a way to bring art to new audiences through an unconventional place that is definitely not your stereotypical gallery or museum and that also challenges the artists and creative minds displaying or performing here to dialogue and engage with the passers-by.
It wouldn't be a bad idea to see more art galleries such as this one being opened in underground spaces scattered all over the world: art, beauty and culture can indeed have a positive impact on people and make us all ponder a bit better about the dynamics functioning in contemporary cities where collective consciousness and personal identities mix and combine together on a daily basis.
From Foot to Head, until 20th April, Galleria Artepassante, Train station Porta Venezia, Milan; entrance Metro Viale Tunisia/Corso Buenos Aires. Participating projects and students: Decomposition by Bibiana Álvarez (Spain); Hybrid by Giulia Conversano (Italy); Entangled Chant by Gozde Tekin (Turkey); Cage by Jiajun Emmie Wang (China); Eyes by Huang Jo-Wei Sunny (Taiwan); Positive/negative Disintegration/reconstruction by Lidiya Suteva (Bulgaria); Sole allover by Mihaly Domokos (Hungary); Nori by Oana Juganaru (Romania), Existential travel by Senay Aslan (Turkey); Prisoner by Shirley Loor (Ecuador); Moonlight serenade by Shuo Wang (China); Ethereal Flow by Susanne Sandgren (Norway) and Lantern by Wanjing Li (China).
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