‘Anders Reuterswärd’ is a clothing line developed by Annie Wu (Articles of Clothing) and Rosanna Hall. Conceived as part of the exhibition, ‘Greater Together’, and Goldin+Senneby’s (Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby) installation ‘Standard Length of a Miracle’, the project responds to the short story of the same name written by Jonas Hassen Khemiri. Goldin+Senneby’s installation was originally presented at Testa Konsthall in Sweden in 2016, and more recently as part of the group show ‘Greater Together’ at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) in Melbourne held from July 8 to September 17, 2017.
The text tells the story of Anders, the narrator who works in a dry cleaning shop. Going through a divorce settlement with his wife, Anders’ prospects transform in an incident in which he attempts to recolour the sun-bleached fabric of a coat in a bucket of black ink. The ink etches onto Anders’ hands leaving them permanently blackened, a new look that serendipitously gives him the appearance of a sort of artistic figure. Under this new alt- persona, Anders is introduced to the art world. An encounter that leads Anders to the evaluation of contemporary art as mediocre and trivial: ‘I looked at the art, which sometimes looked like art, but a lot of the time looked like something totally different’. This spurs the narrator’s quest to pursue a career as an artist, and he dreams of having his own solo show.
Goldin+Senneby’s project, reimagined in the ACCA gallery space, manifested as a theatrical set-like construction with the installation of a large oak tree, tailored into the white walls of the gallery. The project brought together a collective of craftsmen and artists to explore themes of shared authorship, politics of labour and fictional methodologies. Responding to Jonas Hassen Khemiri’s monologue, designers Wu and Hall worked with unclaimed garments sourced from local dry cleaners to create the Anders Reuterswärd collection. The clothes were re tailored into new ensembles; a jacket becomes an all-in-one, a pair of trousers becomes a dress. Layering the stories of the former owners with the story of Anders, the garments feature descriptive tags detailing their original owners, which were designed by Žiga Testen. As part of the exhibition, at 2:12pm each day a gallery attendant, adorned in Anders Reuterswärd, performed a reading of the story of Anders under the branches of the oak tree.
In his 1836 text Sartor Resartus (translating as the ‘Tailor Re-tailored’) author Thomas Carlyle, through his character Diogenes Teufelsdröckh, writes that clothes are ‘not an accident, as quite natural and spontaneous, like the leaves of trees, like the plumage of birds.’ Carlyle’s story, and the story of Anders Reuterswärd, intertwine fictive and real dimensions of clothing as embodied and emblematic material artefacts.