• Alejandro Acin, Porter #1, from the series A Trading Journey, 2015

  • Alejandro Acin, Private Space #2, from the series A Trading Journey

  • Claire Lawrie, Birling Gap, 2016, from the series Mike

  • Claire Lawrie, Chatsworth Hotel, 2015, from the series Mike

  • © Karen Knorr, Untitled, from the series 'Ladies' 2011.
    Karen Knorr talks for Photoworks at London Art Fair Saturday 21 January

  • Karen Knorr, Untitled, from the series Ladies, 2011

Photoworks Annual Issue 23: Open Call – Consumer Culture

In this commissioned article for Photoworks Annual, Diane Smyth provides context for the three selected folios and presents the very different, but equally critical, takes on the marketing fantasy of fashion photography.

Alejandro Acin, Claire Lawrie and Karen Knorr’s projects present three very different but equally critical, takes on the marketing fantasy of fashion photography, highlighting the labour behind the glossy facade, the fallout after the trends have moved on, and the gap between the dream and the everyday.

Fashion photography, whether it’s editorial or advertising, shows off clothes currently or soon to be up for sale. It also adds a layer of fantasy that, whether it’s high-octane glamour or anarchic heroin chic, creates a dream-like world that consumers buy into when they shell out on an item. In doing so, it helps create desirable commodities divorced from the less appealing realities of their production, and endowed with values beyond their pure utility. In Marxist terms, perhaps, it helps create commodity fetishes. That’s not the kind of photography that Photoworks Annual has picked out in its Open Call, though all three selected projects are concerned with the fashion industry. In their own ways, Alejandro Acin’s series A Trading Journey, Claire Lawrie’s Mike and Karen Knorr’s Ladies all complicate the usual relationship between fashion photography and the rag trade, by highlighting the labour behind the glossy facade, the fallout after the trends have moved on, and the gap between the dream and the everyday.

A look behind the scenes in the fashion industry, Alejandro Acin’s A Trading Journey is the most directly subversive—and, perhaps, directly political—of the three. It’s shot in Guangzhou, China’s third largest city and busiest commercial hub, where a quarter of the clothes produced in the country are now made, and where big international fashion brands go to source garments, shoes and accessories before marketing and distributing them around the world. Finding his way into some of the huge wholesale markets in the city, Acin records the overwhelming reality of stalls crammed with goods on sale. ‘Being there is like walking through the backstage of internet trading platforms such as Alibaba, where everything gets packed, wrapped and stored in containers ready to be shipped’, writes the young Spaniard, who is now based in Bristol. ‘Rather than focus on production, with these photographs I want to question the role of photography within the fashion industry by showing the unseen labour and mundanity behind fashion’s supply chain, and the way in which “poor images” circulate within this context. Glamour and prestige are stripped down to show what happens every time an online order is placed.’

Alejandro Acin, Porter #1, from the series A Trading Journey, 2015

Alejandro Acin, Porter #1, from the series A Trading Journey, 2015

Alejandro Acin, Porter #2, from the series A Trading Journey, 2015

Alejandro Acin, Porter #2, from the series A Trading Journey, 2015

Alejandro Acin, Porter #4, from the series A Trading Journey, 2015

Alejandro Acin, Porter #4, from the series A Trading Journey, 2015

Alejandro Acin, Porter #5, from the series A Trading Journey, 2015

Alejandro Acin, Porter #5, from the series A Trading Journey, 2015

 

 

Alejandro Acin, Private Space #1, from the series A Trading Journey

Alejandro Acin, Private Space #1, from the series A Trading Journey

To read the rest of the article Become a Member using the link below. 

Sorry this is a Photoworks Members only post.

Member LoginBecome a Member

For other articles, click here.
For more about the Photoworks Annual Issue 23, click here.

Related project: Photoworks Annual Issue 23 Self Styled

Photoworks Annual Issue 23: Self Styled explores and expands upon idea raised by Brighton Photo Biennial 2016. Self Styled focuses on fashion, style and identity.

Read More