The unusual and sumptuous universe of Walter Van Beirendonck


BUT IF THE Eighties have been a time of revolt, a part of it was a revolt in opposition to demise, introduced on by AIDS. “It was a troublesome and extreme time,” Van Beirendonck tells me, “when a number of individuals round me fell in poor health and died. It was the identical for a lot of artists and creators that we admired. And but, even on the top of the worry, even when there was little hope of a remedy, even when the disgrace and the metaphor of the virus had combined with homosexual tradition, Van Beirendonck remained gleeful about intercourse. . His work from these years, like the autumn 1995 assortment, Paradise Pleasure Productions, acknowledges and celebrates numerous subcultures and codes of homosexual intercourse: there are latex costumes dripping with flabby phalluses and bondage masks made to appear to be to low cost inflatable dolls. They have been leitmotifs ever since – the autumn 2012 assortment, Lust By no means Sleeps, featured extra bondage masks, crafted from a beige leather-based and tweed, paying homage to a British dandy – half respectable, half subversive.

The frankness of those collections makes them mesmerizing now, however after they have been first proven, as many governments actively tried to stigmatize homosexual intercourse, drawing a line between it and illness, they might have been stunning. . Their braveness lies of their lack of excuses. And but, Van Beirendonck doesn’t think about himself a provocateur; his intention was by no means to shock, solely to current. And it persists: The Fall 2018 assortment, Worlds of Solar and Moon, featured pink, yellow, and black ponchos, silk jackets, and jumpsuits, all punctuated with glory holes. “I do know some issues that I do could be stunning to some individuals,” he stated in an interview with ShowStudio in 2011. “However they’re positively not for me.”

This dedication to unflinchingly portraying a sure subculture and exploring the devastation AIDS has taken on her group got here to a head in her Spring 1996 assortment, Killer / Astral Journey / 4D-Hello-D. Held within the Lido nightclub in Paris, the present featured an intergalactic world full of neon-colored clothes, moon boots and large space-age topiary-style wigs, in addition to a story of a younger lady. named Heidi who befriends an area goat. The present’s character Heidi was a direct reference to the work of American artists Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, each cited by Van Beirendonck as main influences in coping with childhood violence and oppression (the Kelley’s work was extra vile, even plaintive; McCarthy’s stays extra aggressive and sexually threatening). In 1992, the 2 collaborated on a video work titled “Heidi”, based mostly on the 1881 novel by Swiss author Johanna Spyri about an orphan despatched to dwell within the woods along with her grandfather. Kelley and McCarthy have been drawn to the allegory of Heidi’s story: an harmless lady residing with an outdated man she needs to please. However in Van Beirendonck’s portrayal, projected on a display screen through the present, Heidi’s candy little mountain goat is transmogrified right into a satan, which represents AIDS. He referred to as their assembly a deadly attraction: the story of one thing that appears benign all of the sudden turning into one thing lethal.

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