Welcome to Passer-by, an exhibition by Atelier E.B, a fashion label run by designer Beca Lipscombe and artist Lucy McKenzie. This is an exhibition about the fruitful and reciprocal relationship fine art has had with window display and the commercial mannequin. It also looks at mannequins and display at World’s Fairs and ethnographical museums. Passer-by includes a display of Atelier E.B’s fashion design, including the duo’s latest collection, Jasperwear.
The title of the exhibition, Passer-by, acknowledges consumers of fashion not just as individuals who buy garments. Everyone who glances at shop window displays and enjoys fashion through books, magazines, exhibitions, and other means partakes in the ways fashion looks and in what it means. For Atelier E.B, the nexus of the overlap between art, design, and commerce is centered on the figure of the mannequin and in fashion display – both as modes of artistic expression and reflections of cultural change. From the World’s Fairs and Expositions of the twentieth century to iconic department stores, ethnographic museums, and fashion retail under communism, Atelier E.B present their research into the practitioners behind these interconnected visual histories, drawing attention to and promoting a deeper understanding of their significance.
The first part of the exhibition focuses on history. Tracing multiple narratives within art, design, and retail and including pieces by a broad spectrum of artists, designers, doll and mannequin-makers, fashion photographers, window trimmers, and architects, five thematic chapters present the fruits of Atelier E.B’s rigorous, if intensely personal, research.
The second part of the exhibition offers a contemporary context. Atelier E.B invited artists Tauba Auerbach, Anna Blessmann, Steff Norwood, Elizabeth Radcliffe, Bernie Reid, and Markus Selg to produce a mannequin or display device on which to present selected garments from previous fashion collections: Inventors of Tradition (2011), Ost End Girls (2013) and Inventors of Tradition II (2015). Each of these artists recognizes the cultural significance of clothing within their own practice and is a collaborator and customer of Atelier E.B.
In the third and final part of the exhibition, Atelier E.B synthesize their findings into several new works, including a series of bespoke display vitrines created for Garage. These vitrines feature the Atelier E.B designs that are available to buy from a boutique on the ground floor of the Museum, to the left of Garage Bookshop. The duo’s new app, Cleo’s, is also exhibited in a sculptural way. The main objective of the app is to create a social network of Atelier E.B’s clients and collectors so that they can share experiences of wearing items or discuss wider agendas.
You can start your journey wherever you like, but it might be helpful to think about the exhibition design as a highway with three lanes of different types of traffic. They vary in terms of objects, topics, and the types of tartan that are attached to each lane. Atelier E.B are from Scotland, and the use of tartan is an homage to their home country. Later in this audio guide different lanes will be mentioned. Please assume that the far left lane is the one closest to the Atrium, where a part of Monica Sosnowska’s steel sculpture is visible, and the positions of other lanes are relative to it. To start our suggested route, please go to the circular podium in the middle of the far left lane.