A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes at MoPop Seattle

by Liam Casey

The programming within the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle is as widespread as the concept of pop itself. Parading through the museum’s interior, akin to a subterranean grotto sprinkled with 21st-century structural and architectural bones, visitors can walk into a number of richly curated shows. Feel like learning about Prince and his Minneapolis, or what mechanics go into horror film artistry, and maybe even an interactive, atmospheric focus into the future of indie game design? It’s all there. One show, though, has been able to capture a litany of motifs: the past, its relation to the present, mythology and its consideration of reality, and lofty ideas realized into living, wearable, commodities.

Chromat, USA. Film.  Serenity,  S/S 2018. Courtesy of Chromat. Still from Film.

Chromat, USA. Film. Serenity, S/S 2018. Courtesy of Chromat. Still from Film.

David LaChapelle, USA. Print.  Burning Down the House,  1996. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting. Photo Sarah Carmody

David LaChapelle, USA. Print. Burning Down the House, 1996. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting. Photo Sarah Carmody

A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes is the latest exhibition joining the ranks of MoPop’s comprehensive programming. Opening to the public just last week, the show examines the visual symbolism of feminine identity through the prism of six various archetypes. Considering  the Mother Earth, Sage, Enchantress, Explorer, Heroine and Thespian personalities, A Queen Within incorporates the works of avant-garde fashion designers and artists into an enticing wunderkammer of sorts. Expect Alexander McQueen avec Vivienne Westwood avec Gypsy Sport in concert with Iris van Herpen, Hassan Hajjaj and Maïmouna Guerresi. Fashion is often criticized for being serious. Here, it’s exalted for the playfulness, color and even spirituality that its creators have cultivated.

Diana Scherer, Netherlands.  Root textile . 2017. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting. Photo Diana Scherer

Diana Scherer, Netherlands. Root textile. 2017. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting. Photo Diana Scherer

Curated by Sofia Hedman and Serge Martynov of MUSEEA, a multidisciplinary design and curatorial platform based in Europe, in collaboration with Barret Barrera Projects, a St. Louis-based art firm which manages an extensive body of McQueen’s work and others, the four-month-long spectacle is a continuation of the New Orleans Museum of Art iteration from last year. “We’re thrilled to bring such beautiful and inspirational work to our community that sparks timely and relevant cultural commentary,” says Alexis Lee, Director of MoPop.

A Queen Within. Installation view. Charlie Le Mindu, Bea Szenfeld & Tabitha Osler. Photo Josh Brasted

A Queen Within. Installation view. Charlie Le Mindu, Bea Szenfeld & Tabitha Osler. Photo Josh Brasted

Jordan Askill, Australia.  Petal and panther headdress . S/S 2011. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting. Photo Jordan Askill

Jordan Askill, Australia. Petal and panther headdress. S/S 2011. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting. Photo Jordan Askill

Critical to the show’s success is the bouquet of multimedia which coalesces for each archetype. Artistic ephemera, in the form of YouTube video installs for Chromat (Explorer), LaChapelle photography (Thespian), or objects rendered from root textiles for the seeable future (Sage), encapsulates the exhibition’s curatorial holism, while the army of mannequins, draped in Tabitha Osler’s Smoked Mountain Dress (Mother Earth), Jordan Askill’s Petal and Panther Headdress (Enchantress) or Serena Gili’s golden fiberglass skirt (Heroine), rejects conventionalism in hopes of reshaping and rethinking what fashion and/or accessories can be. While fashion’s persuasive agency over our minds and, perhaps, credit cards, is present in A Queen Within, the call to action for sustainability and ethical consumption separates this exhibition from the others. This is nothing short of a feast.

Serena Gili, France.  Cashmere beaded top with golden fiberglass skirt.  Discipline collection, 2012. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting. Image by Sarah Carmody

Serena Gili, France. Cashmere beaded top with golden fiberglass skirt. Discipline collection, 2012. Courtesy of Barrett Barrera Projects & RKL Consulting. Image by Sarah Carmody

A Queen Within: Adorned Archetypes runs from May 11th until September 2nd, 2019 at the Seattle Museum of Pop Culture.