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'Dawenti大問題' by Lisa Egio & Elliot Kervyn, Matthieu Darcourt at Hypercorps, Brussels

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Welcome! Come on in and how are you today?

Can I offer you a Chai Tea Latte? Or perhaps a Matcha Green Tea? I hope you noticed our bespoke coffee cups, yes that’s right, each one unique. 

T-shirts? I’m so glad you asked and between me and you, it just has to be said… 

They won’t last long; they’re literally flying off the racks!

Heard it all before eh? Seems a bit fake? Oh of course, most definitely. A reality nonetheless? Well it’s someone’s reality that’s for sure. 

There is much fertile ground to be explored when fashion and art collide. Art thinking through fashion thinking through art might enable a discussion about working practices. Who makes what? And whose name is on the label? Methods of ethical production and international market flows might also be raised. Furrowed brows brood over the similarities and distinctions when the parallel existences of factory workers making products for high street brands and cultural producers working for close to nothing in the pursuit of self-expression are drawn together and examined.

The collaboration between artist duo Lisa Egio & Elliot Kervyn and architect Matthieu Darcourt on view at Hypercorps, for a limited time only, offers the chance for multiple encounters with this fertile place of collision. The site of collaboration positioned as it is within the context of an in-situ residency programme, heightens possible tensions of site-specificity as the history of the project space is itself dragged into the context of the collaboration. A world exclusive, the creation of the inaugural site for the artist’s brand DAWENTI at Rue Pletinckx 60B neatly offers a nod of nostalgia to the former function of Hypercorps, that of a fashion sportswear shop.

The tensions created by riffing from both art and fashion languages are however, less simply about labour – where things are made and how they are made – but are, instead, about turning attentions toward the things, the stuff which is created and which subsequently become embedded in collective consciousness, seeping into the way taste nurtures. 

Which trends, in one day and out the next hang around for future use? Tie-die t-shirts and acid rave smiley faces may be self-consciously ironic when shared on Instagram, where a less than tasteful level of branding is actively pursued. But what of these aesthetic markers when the focus of the gaze is transplanted elsewhere. The circuits and flows of collective image building fundamentally removed from your own understanding or input. 

Spending time, as the artists did in Taiwan, removed from taken-for-granted markers, Egio & Kervyn were left to navigate and record that which seemed unfamiliar. The piles of stuff they witnessed, either discarded on the street or abandoned as passé become in their hands or rather through the eyes of DAWENTI oversized, hung out to display. 

Matthieu Darcourt has also spent time living and working in Asia. His eye and centre of gaze also changed. His manipulation of functional materials, seen at once in his renovations of capsule hotel pods in Tokyo, as well as displays at fashion booths, are for the purposes of the collaboration, rendered as props for the display of objects and become a starting point for the game of taste tracing put into place by the duo of artists. 

Both art and fashion have the potential for huge mistranslation and appropriation. Fakes abound. Desire to find the unique or the next big thing is often established on the misreading or out of context interpretation of newly found styles. Hypercorps plays host to a collaboration which places these misunderstandings at it’s centre. The installation and works in the exhibition become objects through which the aesthetic disorientation experienced by the artists and architect are transmitted to those who enter the space.

DAWENTI which translates as big question is spread across the entire shop, sprawled on the works. It’s repeated writing in mandarin characters can be seen as a reference to the artist’s engagement with the difficulties of image making and the potential opportunities for mistranslation. 

I love your tattoo! Is that Chinese, what does it mean?

The overwhelming sometimes gaudy, flashy aesthetic on show demands collaborative ways of seeing, new methods of reading that which is presented for encounter. By troubling the pathways of consumption and disorientating the ways in which we see the symbols we think we understand, a questioning and reordering of aesthetic hierarchies is put into motion.

This altered state of being not only acts to reset all that is sensed within the space of encounter and consumption but transforms the way in which moments of encounter outside of the heightened environment of the pop-up shop of DAWENTI at Hypercorps are sensed.

The works are knowing and naïve. They are trite and sublime. 

They do not ask that you read them or that you in turn learn something from them. 

They are fashioned from the very stuff of today. 

They are international yet local they are recognisable but useless. 

They are a pursuit in the search of the divine. 

They are just oversized t shirts in a fake shop.

Seriously though, that colour on you is phenomenal. More coffee?

26.5.18 — 2.6.18

Photo by Hugard & Vanoverschelde

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