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Joke Robaard: Archive Species

Bodies, Habits, Practices

‘Archive Species’ is an inquiry into the representation of clothed bodies in print media since the 1970s. Artist Joke Robaard and writer Camiel van Winkel have been re-assembling and re-reading the vast archive of fashion and newspaper images that Robaard has collected since 1979. Together, they selected images from the archive and arranged them into dynamic series or cycles, generating new narratives and unexpected pathways of signification. Using an artistic strategy of appropriation and alienation, the authors identify crucial connections between body, object, and behaviour, in an elaborate attempt to expose the hidden cultural and political layers of fashion photography.

The essays in this book—on topics such as the assembled self, the construction and deconstruction of garments, and the metaphorical potential of textile and fabric—should be read in close connection to the prolific visual material. Fashion photography adopts behavioural patterns from everyday life, and prints or stamps them, in the form of graphic patterns and textile arrangements, onto the bodies of men and women and the clothes that they wear. This is what ‘Archive Species’ wants to demonstrate. It is an inquiry into shifting forms of human behaviour and self-presentation, the entropy of materials, and the habits of dress. Fashion photographs are read as fossils of graphic production: although embedded in the past, they point forward to conditions of contemporaneity.