for Photo London
Down the hallway at Central Saint Martins have walked many creative souls. Some of them are worshiped like gods, while some remain incognito like ghosts, such as @that_so_csm. The account’s espionage had eventually arrived on a bold portrait project in collaboration with photographer Balint Alovits, where candidates ran into a studio set-up serendipitously and were given a shot of honest photograph. These genuine pictures expose the unfiltered looks of CSM students in their everyday situation – a swift of eccentricity in a full ounce of rawness. The fatigue of their undereye bags, the audacity of their overbleached hair, the nonchalance of the Nefertiti worthy eyeliners… this everyday-but-not-so-everyday scenario narrates the daily encounters at this sanctum of fashion and is now brought to you in these portraits. There they were in front of the infamous spy of CSM unacknowledged of the presence of THAT ghost again.
Being a BA Fashion Womenswear student at CSM, Victoria Valette (@victoriavalette) considers this school a place where art takes place in the manner of fashion. She’s allowed to be whoever, or whatever, she aspires to be. “I want to be a hat,” she said, “hat is the final touch, the summit of our bodies.” While modern fashion has rendered ‘the hat’ an accessory as opposed to its essentiality in the 19th century, Victoria also admitted that she never wears a hat. Her paradoxical personality is no less true to the identity of hat, “a hat hides us but reveals us”. She, of course, has no intention to be actually turned into a hat, otherwise, that’s TOO CSM. But this idea of the hat has become an impulsion, a purely instinctive idea, that drives her to pursue such an absolute image of herself. As she recognized, fashion is the artistic medium for us to be presented as an image to the world.
Were she to perceive herself as an artwork, she would be a work of Suprematism whose sharp geometry outline defines the boundary of an object while the basic shapes reduce the limits of possibility. Through Suprematism paintings, the complicity of art is discussed at its fineness, in the fundamental formula and to the infinite orthogonality. Such simplicity could also be found in her own works where the colour formation and collage-like composition of Matisse and Malevich found their way in. Fashion could be the body of art but not necessarily art itself. CSM to her is a Utopia which should be made as a tourist destination for whoever dreams or, at least, aspires to dream.
In lieu of the traditional concept of art, MA GCD graduate Karolina Krupickova (@itskarolinakrupickova) considers herself a film by Metahaven if she were to be an artwork. She explained herself through Virginia Woolf’s beautiful quote, “while all the other arts were born naked, this, the youngest, has been born fully-clothed. It can say everything before it has anything to say.” This likely explains her inherent understanding that the design of fashion is to give form whilst the art of fashion is feelings- following form. The highly conceptual construction of her own philosophy had noted that the idea that “a single person as the absolute embodiment of creativity” should be abandoned, because, to her, “the question is who could have been taking credits and why they could?” Therefore, she low-key denied her artistic identity without completely rejecting it.
Despite such inexplicit confirmation to herself, her perception of art is clear. “Art translates personal desire through a system into visuals,” a saying she borrowed from her friend Johanna Hammer. At CSM, whose people are both formed and reformed by the school, the people at the library are nonetheless the visualizer of their own art or fashion - however that is recognized. The space of CSM has become a members-only club where only those, walking memes, understand the zeitgeist of the ridicule of this school in the most serious sense. If CSM were to be a government Karolina would give each of the tutors of MA GCD a country to run. However, this list of the Illuminati - CSM edition - remains preferably undisclosed. When asked about whether CSM should be a tourist destination, she simply said, “do you wanna go to dreamland?”
Well, do you?
From all the answers I received, the most vivid yet undulating one goes to GP (@gsuoxi). To describe herself as a fashion item, she narrated her image as a “3D printed face jewellery with liquid sealed in a glass bubble and airbrush coated colour (translucent green and brown probably).” It is not hard to understand such elaborate depiction from the surrealistic flair she consistently serves throughout her Instagram feeds. However, she added, she would also like to be a moveable installation of conceptual art. Although GP herself seldom defines art, she conducts the practice of her own art with an otherworldly dress code and the animated eye makeup. She admits that she is always “attracted by objects that are wrong from the original existing.” The incongruous, unfitted, awkward, and maybe the uncomfortable quality intrigues her, which is no less exciting than the effect of art on people.
Being a BA Fashion Design student at CSM, she is the one that blends in as well as the odd one out. In her own words, CSM students are in the business of “feeling stressed whilst making other people more stressed, we are all living under the law of the jungle.” It is indeed a situation not dissimilar to the Hunger Games. On entering Central Saint Martins the five minute interaction with the security guard may be the most pleasant meeting you will have that day. Those indifferent discerning eye contacts could rip you off right away in a glance. CSM encouraged her to manifest her Utopia through mixed media, and the cruelty of reality at this school also motivated her to pursue the most idiosyncratic ideas in the most pragmatic approach as a “proper designer”. As Bobby Hillson put it- ‘CSM doesn’t make talents, it makes talents professional’.
By Erio Didier
2nd October 2020