The Dress Show

Issue 5

A Group Show
Curated by Melanie McWhorter

Although the common connection between photography and the dress is more obviously associated with the world of fashion, the end of the Victorian era, subsequent feminist movements, and the evolution of art photography– including the death of the idea that images are strictly objective– have allowed for the use of this garment as signifier. The duality of this icon simultaneously represents Freud's fetish, "substitute for the erotic object that appears lost", and the nature of this garment associated with concept of the feminine. Recent evolution in photographic theory has contributed to the potency of the dress as symbol and serves to turn our thoughts toward the future of feminine representation.

The debate about whether photography is an art form has raged since before the turn of the 20th century, struggling for its place beyond the utilitarian functions of portraiture or realistic (and sometimes exotic or sensationalized) documents. Photographs rely on collective and established symbols to communicate a message and the specific message conveyed is becoming much more universal. The Dress itself has become an icon for beauty, lust, love, memory, subjugation and idolization.