Outsider In

Outsider In

>> Google the artist Dan Michiels and you're unlikely to come up with much, save for a profile page on Creativity Explored, the website of an organisation in San Francisco that works and aids artists with developmental disabilities.  That may change though now that Comme des Garcons debuted six stunning silhouettes at the end of the A/W 13-4 show on Saturday, where Michiels' work was reinterpreted as prints.  This rigorous excercise in the "infinity of tailoring" as Rei Kawakubo called it, first employed all of the sobre City Boy suit fabrics you could think of but right at the end, just as we were reconciled with the fact that this was a beautiful and magnificently stark feminine/masculine interplay, there was further joy to be found when Michiels' prints came down the runway.  

Michiels creates psychedelic patterns worked out with a ruler, grid-esque lines and an array of felt tip pens (I notice we share a similar nervous tick about not having the same colour touch each other in the geometric patterns) to create tessellated tile patterns.  It looks like a laborious process but the results are instantly explosive and joyful and combined with Kawakubo's generous in-built rosettes, folds, pleats and bunching up of fabric in these deliciously tactile suits, it makes for a delectable visual feast.  One we were only to happy to see as the runway was literally about 50cm wide max, bringing we, the audience closer into these kaleidoscopic crazy swirls.  Trust Kawakubo to find an "outsider" artist to bring us right into her world.    






















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  1. Z for Zayd

    2013-03-04 at 11:20 AM

    these are breathtaking!

  2. Miss Coco

    2013-03-04 at 11:27 AM

    Amazing colours!

  3. Lizzy

    2013-03-04 at 12:40 PM

    Regards, lizzyebelingkoning.blogspot.com

  4. Teresa

    2013-03-04 at 12:55 PM

    True kaleidoscopic!
    Susie Bubble, this illustration is for you: http://teresaabreulima.blogspot.com/2013/03/susie-bubble.html
    Hope you like it!

  5. Style is...

    2013-03-04 at 12:57 PM

    Wow these are really beautiful, a real explosion of colour!

  6. Stylemecrafty

    2013-03-04 at 1:50 PM

    What a great use of an under represented artistic resource. Being from San Francisco, I have walked past their building on 16th street many times. Rei is going from strength to strength as usual, pushing the access of art from a marginalized group often ignore rather than celebrated. This is on a whole other level! Absolutely, brill! I would love to here how she came across the work of Creativity Explored and if there will be further collabs.
    Joy @ stylemecrafty.com

  7. morenike

    2013-03-04 at 3:57 PM

    I find this truly inspiring

  8. November Blue

    2013-03-04 at 4:08 PM

    yeah, totally outsider look. im into it ~!

  9. Charlotte

    2013-03-04 at 4:30 PM

    These are incredible! The prints are amazing!
    – Charlotte

  10. A

    2013-03-04 at 5:34 PM

    every little line and colour really makes the pattern special! all the small details create a massive ball of explosion! Amazing!

  11. My Daily London

    2013-03-04 at 5:52 PM

    What an artist!! Love it!!!


    2013-03-04 at 7:27 PM

    Very nice post. I love. Full of good things.
    Love, unicorns and glitter on you. <3

  13. Herrbergquist

    2013-03-04 at 10:31 PM

    Joyous! Excellent report!

  14. Elise

    2013-03-05 at 1:47 AM

    There have been some ethical concerns with the idea of ‘outsider art’ especially because it carries a large interest and market in the art world, an example being the recent outsider art fair in NY. It is a sensitive topic because ‘outsider’ art, despite its undeniable awe; Henry Dragger, Judith Scott, among many which undoubtedly enrich artistic practice and discourse, can be exploitative by definition. Although the distinctions are very flimsy between insider and outsider, especially as of late (in a time where RoseMarie Trockel’s retrospective at the New museum was comprised mostly of outsider art, and elephant paintings have a lucrative market of their own), the response in your article seemed to avoid the issues altogether .
    I respect Rei kawabuko’s work a great deal, but the choice to use Dan Michiel’s work seems to simply reflect the voyeurism that the visual arts can carry toward those on the fringes of society (especially those with mental illness), and an unproductive reiteration of the search for the ‘avante garde’ .
    Yes, it is beautiful, yes, it is mysterious to almost exoticism, but it still is important to consider the ethics.
    Especially when in Dan Michiel’s case, the joyousness, the exuberance, and the ‘ psychedelia’ of his work ironically is a product of some form of suffering, or lack of ‘fullness’ of the human potential.

    • Chuck Novak

      2016-01-14 at 4:59 PM

      clearly Dan has a gift for expressing and interpreting that which is welled up in him . . this is amazing channel for him – one can only imagine what goes through his mind as the revelations of pattern and design come to him … hopefully the comfort of it’s realization is the joy that his work seems to embody.

  15. milex

    2013-03-05 at 2:34 AM

    Everything is just perfect for me. I want to die.

  16. Lillian

    2013-03-05 at 11:08 AM

    I reaaaally enjoyed this Comme Des Garcons collection (Not that I don’t enjoy other collections, I like nearly everything they put out.) The prints (and their origin) are wonderful, a lovely contrast the the black and gloomy ensembles in the beginning of the collection.

  17. Louise

    2013-03-05 at 7:20 PM

    Woah! So awesome and eye-catching 😀

  18. Avloppstankar

    2013-03-05 at 11:47 PM

    Dan Michiels + Comme des Garcons is a good collaboration. Those prints are out of this world!

  19. Matilda Munyard

    2013-03-06 at 7:48 PM

    Wow! The patterns are so bright and intricate. I would wear those any day!

  20. Danielle korneliussen

    2013-03-07 at 5:00 AM

    Dear Susie Bubble…. Thank you for existing!!! Seeing this brilliant collaboration gave me a jolt of massive creativity. Ahhhh… Those built-in roses, and ahhhhh…. Those patterns! Thank you Thank you Thank you!

  21. Trendstop.com

    2013-03-07 at 11:24 AM

    Really interesting show edit, great to see close ups of these mind boggling prints! Such creative work from an exciting new collaboration.

  22. alex

    2013-03-07 at 4:35 PM

    Omg, the colours ! im like speechless <3

  23. Jayinee Basu

    2013-03-08 at 4:53 AM

    As much as I appreciate your desire to be ethical, I think your viewpoint is problematic to say the least.
    I volunteer at Creativity Explored and write about the incredible art produced there. I wrote a post in response to your comment here (this Tumblr is not associated with Creativity Explored):
    Your projection that the joy in Michiel’s work actually stems from his suffering seems condescending, seeing as how all art can be said to stem from some kind of internal conflict. If you look at his bio page, there is a video of him working. Does he seem like a particularly tortured soul?

  24. susie_bubble

    2013-03-08 at 9:30 AM

    I was going to respond to Elise as well. I have no idea whether Michiels’ comes from a tortured place when creating his art (although judging by the video and Jayinee Basu’s reply, I really don’t feel that’s the case) but what I do want to point out is that this exposure is surely nothing but a positive thing for so-called “outsider” art. I don’t know the ins and outs but I’m sure Michiels was also well-renumerated for his contribution to the collection something that can aid his growth as an artist. Where do we draw the lines at collaborations like these being exploitative? Are are you arguing for all outsider art to stay… well, on the outside?
    Also, I don’t really know what developmental disability Michiels has but I really doubt Kawakubo would use his work if he wasn’t fully consenting (that’s based on previous collaborations Kawakubo has done with artists).

  25. E. Francis Kohler

    2013-03-09 at 12:21 AM

    I‚Äôm don‚Äôt doubt that you mean well Elise, but by singling out artists with disabilities I think you inadvertently contribute, if by words only, to their marginalization. There should be ethical concerns about the art market in general. I don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs useful separate artists with disabilities from all the artists who are, in many ways, equally susceptible to exploitation by the art market (or more accurately, the unsavory individuals within it). Unless I am completely misinterpreting your opinions I must also take issue with your notion regarding Dan‚Äôs art making. You wrote: “[Dan’s art]…ironically is a product of some form of suffering, or lack of ‘fullness’ of the human potential.”. I‚Äôm curious to know how you came to this conclusion. I think we‚Äôre all familiar with the common clich√© of the artist as the habitually suffering being. And I‚Äôm sure it applies to some individuals, but I find it presumptuous to characterize Dan (or any other artist for that matter) in this manner. I wonder, Elise, if you could imagine that the act of art making, for Dan, yields the exact opposite of suffering: joy. I believe art making, for even the most stereotypically depressed artist, is a combatant against suffering. Let‚Äôs address another point. You wrote: “…but the choice to use Dan Michiel’s work seems to simply reflect the voyeurism that the visual arts can carry toward those on the fringes of society (especially those with mental illness)”. Would you be willing to consider that it also reflects the appreciation and value of the work of an artist (not an artist with a disability or with mental illness – just an artist, period)? As for voyeurism: people with disabilities hold no monopoly in that area. No one is immune – particularly if they‚Äôre a performer, model, artist, actor etc. I understand that forums such as this are limited, but if we were having this conversation in person I would ask you to elaborate on that point. That brings us to back to exploitation. I don’t know what Comme de Gar√ßon typically pays its fabric designers. If Dan was paid considerably less than what they pay designers or artists without disabilities then yes, that could be considered exploitative. On the other hand if they compensated him essentially equally, then “Hurray!”, good for them for not making a distinction. I‚Äôd like to know how much involvement/feedback Dan had regarding this project. I think that‚Äôs always important. But when it comes down to it, can we agree that Rei Kawabuko simply dug Dan’s art? I really can’t imagine Rei saying to her people “Hey, let’s find a crazy or retarded artist and use their art for our next collection. That’d be cool and edgy, huh? And besides we can pay them pennies on the dollar.”. Call me na√Øve, but my hope is that the choice to use Dan‚Äôs art simply reflects that artists with disabilities are increasingly enjoying opportunities to compete on the same playing field as artists without disabilities.

  26. susie_bubble

    2013-03-09 at 10:00 AM

    Spot on answer. I’m hoping for an answer from CdG actually on this matter so if I have any more information, will add to this comment thread and to the post.

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