MELBOURNE-BASED performance and multimedia artist Scotty So grew up reading through Harper’s BAZAAR publications in Hong Kong. Early in lifestyle the composition, theatricality and “utter glamour” of BAZAAR’s glossy addresses and editorial visuals piqued his desire in style as a efficiency medium to take a look at individual and cultural identification.
Now based mostly in Melbourne, So’s mixed-media observe brings together drag, general performance art, and visible art in every little thing from stay operatic performances to self-styled theatrical studio shoots featuring clothes of his individual generation. His function invitations viewers to contemplate the job of trend in lifestyle and culture, exploring the concept of a substantial fashion ‘illusion’ by means of the lens of an artist who does not determine as staying element of the vogue business.
“I did not have a style history when I started off my art practice, I was by no means element of the manner earth. Even now, I can’t manage to purchase into that world of haute couture,” states So.
“But I realised that I appreciate cultural clothes as considerably as superior vogue, and I commenced exploring the magnificence and glamour present in other styles of garments I could entry, garments that ended up acquainted to me like kimonos and the regular Chinese cheongsam.”
So began to examine the resourceful prospects at the intersection of photography, general performance and textiles though finding out fine art at the Victorian College or university of the Arts. With no formal sewing or style style training, he would sneak into the costume section and ask the personnel if he could use the sewing device to experiment with creating kimonos and cheongsam in regardless of what material he could come across.
Now represented by top Australian present-day art gallery, MARS Gallery, So’s exercise has developed to be really investigation-led, drawing from his very own Thai and Chinese cultural heritage in conjunction with narratives from fashion, queer culture and well-liked-culture inspiring his performances as alluring female people. Be it a Kabuki theatre star, an aria-singing operatic femme, or his particular drag change-moi, Scarlett So Hung Son, vogue and clothes are the performance guise by means of which the artist explores lifestyle and identity.
“The more I complete as different figures, the extra I check out who I am as an artist and a man or woman. Distinctive silhouettes give you distinctive postures, and a diverse feeling when you wear them,” So suggests.
“When I was expanding up in Hong Kong I wore suits a large amount, and they created me sense sophisticated, and so I carried myself in a specified way. When I moved to Australia, I definitely developed my drag and effectiveness artwork, and I carried myself otherwise when wearing clothes like the cheongsam and kimono. With this adjust of bodily movement comes a adjust of identity,” he adds.
So’s exuberant creative perspective has gained him functionality and fee prospects at some of Australia’s most large-profile art and culture situations, together with NGV Triennial (2020), Melbourne Art Honest (2022) and Photograph 2022. Exactly where will the upcoming So-extravaganza pop up? RISING’s Golden Sq., an immersive artwork carpark where by you’ll be mesmerised by an iridescent So dressed as the Chinese moon goddess in a holographic organza robe that drifts ethereally by the space, among the other guises. He will also demonstrate a everyday living-dimension hologram of himself doing as drag character Scarlett So Hung Son. Sci-fi-seductive, consider holographic Kate Moss for Alexander McQueen Slide/Winter season 2006.
Like several millennials, So also grew up observing trend fact Tv set reveals like America’s Up coming Major Model and Undertaking Runway, exactly where he was very first introduced to terms like ‘high fashion’ and ‘haute couture.’ He recalls getting captivated by the editorial photographs he observed on display, and would try out to perform out how they ended up created, or what he favored about their composition. Then a person day, he found Alexander McQueen.
“I would look at his shows and they blew my thoughts each time. I was witnessing dwell art, not fashion. What McQueen place on the runway was, by some requirements, thought of ‘ugly’, but you totally couldn’t prevent hunting at it, notably collections like Voss from 2001. That a person really strike me tough,” he claims.
Artists and designers typically favour a recurring stylistic motif, which permeates their do the job as their exercise evolves. For So, it is the cheongsam. With its exquisite standing collar and type-fitting proportions, this classic Chinese women’s night dress has been reimagined by the artist in a range of materials including individuals crimson, blue and white nylon storage baggage and, a lot more recently, a Louis Vuitton-type monogram printed cloth.
“My function is about truths. Originally the Louis Vuitton monogram was motivated by a Japanese relatives crest. So is the cheongsam I’ve produced from this replica cloth influenced by Louis Vuitton, or by Japanese culture and historical past?” So muses.
“If I’m in drag searching amazing putting on pretend Louis Vuitton, does it issue if what I’m carrying is bogus or actual? Right after all, I’m not a authentic girl both. I assume I’m making an illusion, and that is what issues. If you look highly-priced and existing on your own in a certain way, individuals actually are captivated by your aura, and suddenly, it’s not about how much you paid out for your handbag.”
And a trendy ultimate phrase from Scotty So?
“Of system, my advice is to go for the actual point. If you can find the money for the Hermès Birkin, unquestionably go for it.”
See Scotty So execute reside at Rising Melbourne.
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