Purple Magazine
— S/S 2007 issue 7

Letter to Olivier Zahm

THOMAS HIRSCHHORN is one of my favorite artists, for aesthetic, political, even philosophical reasons. He refused to participe in a show I curated in 2006 at the Grand Palais in Paris, rejecting the concept of an art & fashion show. I was upset and we didn’t speak for a while.

Then I received a letter, with the reproductions of the collages I wanted to exhibit, in which he clearly explains why art and fashion should not be mixed, and why he fights what he calls “the defeat of art in the face of fashion.” I found his radical point of view of separating art and fashion beautiful. And strangely enough, I thought it had to be said in these pages, by a major artist, because Purple Fashion was largely established on the historical validity of their connection (from Ingmar Bergman to Matthew Barney for example). But the confusion between art and fashion was never encouraged here.


1. ART AND FASHION “You were angry with me because I refused to participate in your exhibition, and you wrote, “No fun with you,” or something like that. I completely understand your disappointment and anger, but I don’t understand “No fun.” Because I like to have fun. I like to work. I have fun when I’m working. I like everything about my work. I laugh when I work. I’m never bored. It is, of course, wonderful to be able to make art—to be able to express oneself, to invent forms, to affirm things that come from yourself.”

2. COLLAGES “You wanted to show a series of collages (attached are images). I’m happy that you like them; I do too. I like them and I like making collages—which I call Works on Paper. To make a collage is an interpretation, a real interpretation. It’s an interpretation that creates something new, a new world.”

3. RESISTANCE “For me, in art nothing is inachievable, nothing is impossible, nothing is forbidden, limited or excluded. Art is Resistance. All art is resistance. Art resists against common sense, against what is possible, against what is salable, against what is permitted, and against thinking in limits. Art as art fights against the dicatorship of commerce. Art as art fights against the dictatorship of taste, the dictatorship of the ideology of weakness and correctness; art fights also the idea of defeat.”

4. ART/FASHION “It’s because art is resistant that it doesn’t fit with fashion. Never. It’s not worth it. It’s useless. It’s unneccessary. It’s a waste of time. Because fashion is not resistant. Fashion doesn’t resist. It doesn’t want to resist. It’s absolutely the opposite of art. Even if the Forms do resemble each other, or are very close, never is the Form of fashion resistant. Because fashion wants the power, it wants to impose itself, it wants to seduce, and wants to be bought, even when it’s expensive. It wants to be purchased, therefore, it is not resistant.”

5. FRANCE:FASHION “Concerning fashion I should talk about the country in which I live and work: France. For me, the melange, is really a French concept. There are many things I like in France, which makes this place great to work as an artist. There’s energy, there’s chaos, there’s reality, confrontation, and I like those things—but there is also a defeatist mentality and an easiness that I can’t stand. The defeatist attitude and the easiness go together in France with the combination of art and fashion…”

6. NO GLAMOUR “I think that in France, when artists become established, they become trapped by what I call glamour. Even though I understand the temptation, the weakness, for the sexy side of “glamour,” I think it’s a trap that’s easy to avoid. Because glamour never comes by itself. It’s opportunistic and only follows success. When we were young artists, we worked without success. We weren’t very glamourous. Why should I suddenly become glamourous?”

[Table of contents]

S/S 2007 issue 7

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