Maya Fuhr’s ‘Tec Style’ at Ten Years Ago Gallery
Tec Style is the first solo exhibition at 10 Years Ago Gallery, a new series of mixed media works developed over a four year period by Toronto-based artist Maya Fuhr. On till February 22nd, the show, which Fuhr describes as “a tour of the manufacturing process of a garment” is a blunt admonishment of the rapid textile consumption of the fashion industry. Exploring the lifespan of a garment, the artist captures the process of production and consumption within a variety of different media, and in doing so interrogates the tactile relations and meaning-making inherent in our relationship with the sartorial.
The show is the first solo exhibition at Ten Years Ago Gallery, a space that owner Aaron Kirsch hopes can become a space to share the joy one derives from purchasing art from creators. “My vision for the gallery is to facilitate the growth and critical recognition of Canadian and international artists while shining a spotlight on Toronto and its cultural roots… Maya’s exhibit falls effortlessly in line with my vision for the gallery. It critiques the fashion cycle, shows process and progress, and is multi-disciplinary. The thesis of the show, works, and related talks at the gallery are thought-provoking, unstructured and fun. We have invited the community to view, talk, and learn, which we will implement in future shows.”
The performative transformation of Tec Style, and its brilliance as an exhibition, lies in the name itself. Denoting both ‘textile’, ‘tech’ and ‘style’, the show’s various representations of the sartorial which run the gamut of mediated forms suggest the multiplicity of perspectives and connections that clothing can represent and assume. Lightboxes, 3D renders, sculptural explorations, and video installation render garments in their own likeness but in differing and uncanny tactility and form. Where photographs illuminated in lightboxes imply the toxic process of dying a garment, aluminum prints portray varying fabrics being washed and dried whilst a singular crimson-colored sock coated in plaster appears discarded, implying the logical manifestation of the end of the life cycle of a garment. In offering renewed perspectives of clothing in alternative forms, Fuhr in her interrogation of consumption and production prods the spectator to consider their own personal relationship to clothing.
Tell us about the concept behind ‘Tec Style’ and what inspired this work?
After working in the fashion world for about 8 years, I really started reviewing my personal contribution to climate change and my relationship to textures and materials. It’s a continuation of my previous 2017 body of work & exhibition Malleable Privilege, where I investigated the impacts that my fashion work had on the environment… Still-lifes of natural clay materials and objects floating in underwater worlds, juxtaposed with synthetics to recreate fashion advertisements. A sculptural (real) ice cream cake with a photograph of plastic bags melting away, etc etc. This won The Magenta Foundation Photography Award which allowed me to continue this investigation.
Tec Style, the first solo exhibition at 10 Years Ago Gallery, is a new series of mixed media works developed over a four year period by Toronto-based artist Maya Fuhr. Recording the fabric of clothing and other related materials, Fuhr examines the relationship with textiles of dress, coalescing the geographic anatomy of the clothing we wear each day. This series of works traces the steps of a garment’s lifespan through a process of investigation following the factory creation. Balanced on the systems of creation—the production of a final product is considered. The altered space between image and concept describes a gradiated boundary concerning whether clothing can ever be inactive. A performance of transformation takes place. Lightboxes, 3D renders, sculptural explorations and video installation realize an embodied investigative operation closer to a world of object apropos. Fuhr is handling the increasingly expansive materiality and fluidity of form within the familiar to reveal substances of newness’. Studying the process of creation, at each step the material at hand is metabolized by its environment at a pace unique to the world’s experience of it. What is the living memory of an object’s material form? The intimacy and sensuality construed within our relationships with our clothing are met with the tactile realities surrounding their meaning-making.
Why the name Tec Style?
I decided to call it Tec Style as a play on the word textile. The show is about style and clothing, presented in an industrial context giving a tour of the manufacturing process and life span of a garment of clothes. Tec also plays a big role in the exhibition! Lightboxes and chords, 3D prints, lamps, and video installation. Also, the definition of a TEC is a detective or investigator and that’s just what I’m doing within the fashion industry.
The show utilizes a wide variety of media in representing the sartorial. Walk us through the different forms and media you used in this show and why it was important that each of them was incorporated.
Photos mounted on aluminum: These showcase different photos in a grid of 6 of pink garments being washed with bubbly suds, and another trilogy of old nylon socks basking in the sun in the sand. The reason I displayed them on aluminum is because it’s a waterproof material that I’d like to treat as a prototype for a possibly larger, public art display. In the past, I’ve put a lot of my aluminum sculptures in bodies of water in different sites. Bent in a very clean curve that reminds me of a lampshade – I’m shedding light on old clothing and the fashion industry.
Photos displayed as lightboxes: These mock advertisements. The glow draws you in. The photographic content itself is straight forward, a tour of the cycle of fashion. I thought it was interesting to display this subject matter in a flashy way. The part of the textile industry that isn’t talked about.
The entire show translates as just this: relevant and making a new beauty out of the seemingly old.
3D Printed warped Chanel boots: Chanel lent me boots when they hosted me in Paris to tour Coco Chanel’s apartment last fall. I took the boots and photographed them 360° and warped them like snakes and then printed them in 3D layers for 100 hours. The two boots displayed (beige and cream) hug each other. This is a playful wink to the possible future of fashion – 3D printed shoes & garments – which is already being developed as a sustainable alternative.
Silk and Resin sculptures: Items like leftover naturally dyed silks, a once-white- silk dress shirt dyed green, ripped black silk pants were dipped in resin. Creating a permanent fixture of something that was disregarded. It was very important to me because I’m a proud supporter of up-cycling. My green silk shirt played a role in many of the pieces in the show (lightbox, rug, dye process). This once stained shirt had a long life span of its own with my care for it and inspiration it brought me and the inevitable permanence it now has in the world, for everyone to enjoy. Each piece really has a personality of its own and is treated with love and appreciation.
Marble Velvet Rugs: It was important for me to incorporate actual tangible fabrics to touch. The show begins with a long rug with a red-hued light leak pathing the way into the gallery. Viewers are encouraged to walk over this rug and have a self-reflective moment before entering, to reflect on Hollywood’s Red Carpet~ “What am I wearing? Where is it from?”
What do you hope spectators take away from experiencing Tec Style?
Each piece sold has partial proceeds going to My Clothes My World – teaching youth about the cycle of fashion. I want not only youth to have a better idea of where their clothing comes from, but for all spectators to have a more sensitive relationship with the fabric they wear. Understanding all of the steps, hard work, water waste, toxins that go into making one each article of clothing you wear. Having this insight hopefully encourages you to shop less impulsively and to really take time when choosing what to buy and what to do with your clothes once you’re over them.
Cody Rooney is a Glossi mag contributor.
He is a photography aficionado, masters candidate, fashion enthusiast, avid Ariana Grande fan and lover of all things aesthetically pleasing.