27 October 2013

Artist Highlight: Johannes Zits

Boa tarde, my readers,

It is only fitting that I follow the workshop on Fashion and Embodiment with a series of posts that highlight artists who are addressing those very subjects. For while fashion is a word we are all familiar with, embodiment is the very essence that we are talking about.

And one of such artists is Johannes Zits, Toronto-based but globally prolific, who engages the subjects of embodiment, textiles, and garments in ways that extend beyond the word "fashion" but, in the words of my dear friend and muse, Randal Jacobs, become "high concept."

I first met Johannes in the lobby of SESC-Vila Mariana of São Paulo after watching him, day by day, over the course of the Hemispheric Institute's Encuentro conference, shred his suit jacket to pieces and weave it into a loin cloth.


This loin cloth then became revived once again as the embodied action in the trees of the Praça Roosevelt in São Paulo, similar to another performance  "I'm not slim." which he staged in Callejon de Mesones, "a gentrified section" in Centro Histórico, Mexico City.

These pieces  represent but a myriad of ways that he has engaged art viewer and audience in subtle engagements facilitated through the interaction of his body with the environment, urban, natural, remote, gentrified, diverse, provincial- environments are ripe with connotations and opportunities for activist engagement.

What dare I say of this praxis??

A lot. Johannes has been practicing for two decades. His work has explored via his material surroundings subjectivity, corporeality, nudity and cloth. Cloth is a language through which he paints narratives of discourse, some pre-defined, others, open to the reinterpretation and re-envisioning of the viewer. The narratives are then recommunicated through the media of photography, live installations, performances, videos, actions, and last but certainly not least, textile bricolage.

Similar to El Anatsui, some of his work involves recycled materials because of his sheer interest in the medium and the performance of reinterpretation instead of an explicit environmentalist statement. Nonetheless, because of his intimate connection with the material, whether the re-envisioned fabric scrap, nature or his nude body in concert with these natural and reclaimed materials, his work still illuminates, perhaps inadvertently, questions of consumption, excess, and human living that either is amenable or sharply contrasts that of the natural earth.

While in Toronto for Fashion Art Toronto earlier this year, an event at which he also presented, I had the amazing opportunity to meet with Johannes in his beautiful studio  and view some of the latest textile works that inform much of his performance.

Bricolage is a powerful medium to re-engage the mind on the power of embodiment.

Inspired by artists such as Johannes Zits, El Anatsui, Jean Michel Basquiat, David Hammons, and Wangechi Mutu, among many others, I move foward with my ever evolving environment-inspired line, ReciclaGEM, through the crafting of my Fall 2014 Collection, entitled "Bricolage," created with the vision of reclaiming the discarded of our environment to become re-aquainted with it.

That is what Johannes and such artists have done in art and performance, and that is what I hope also do in fashion, with the worlds of performance, art and fashion being in symbiotic and consistent conversation with one another.

Peace, love, and embodiment,

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