The third triennial video and photography exhibit at the International Center for Photography, was aptly entitled “ Dress Code.” Featured artists provided their own interpretation of style, figure and fashion from behind the seams. The sky was overcast, the wind was crisp and it was 12:30pm. Scallywag has undoubtedly given me some unique assignments, though this one, occurring on a beautiful fall afternoon, was one of the more favorable surprises that I have learned to anticipate (one cannot, of course, expect to be surprised; there is neither fun nor reason to the phrase).
The ICP is the epicenter of established and emerging photographic and video art. Though the exhibit extended throughout the entire gallery, all two floors and their delightfully labyrinthine atria, I began where most end—downstairs. From the balcony on the first floor, I could see a mix of guests, photographers and mysterious individuals with muted red nametags milling about the small square room. Everyone came in style, in honor of fashion, and all bore equal looks of gravity and appreciative appraisal. I do not pretend to understand photography, and I was happy, and privileged, to be in the company of artists eager to educate.
Christopher Phillips was pointed out to me by one of the museum’s directors, a man with one of the aforementioned name tags who assured me that he was not someone to be speaking to. I was confused but obliged his index finger by drifting in the general direction it had indicated.
“We are featuring work by artists from outside the world of professional fashion photography. These works look at fashion, style and design with a bit more humor and skepticism.” As I approached a tableau of Polaroid, each depicting drag queens in various stages of dishabille and intoxication, I began to understand what Wallace was talking about.