Ciaccia Levi, Paris
My mother constantly repeated to me and my brother, “be always well-dressed”.
It became a kind of mantra, then in October 2020 it was the title of my graduate exhibition at the Beaux-Arts de Paris.
For me, clothing has always been a means of expression. As a French woman of Iranian origin, it was a way of situating myself within society. I don’t just choose my clothes for aesthetic reasons, I seek to tell stories through shape, colour and well-suited accessories. I obsessively archive images from my daily life: screenshots and scans that I then combine to create new images. For me, collage is a way of imitating both the scroller and the baroque aesthetic of Instagram: a world of windows and plunging views, where photos of friends and family are mixed in surreal fashion with images of the Kardashians, bunches of kittens, and the scandal surrounding Adama Traore’s death in police custody.
I’m interested in the souvenirs and memorabilia sold to tourists in Paris and presented a re-reading of these various nicknacks and items of clothing as part of my graduate show. It struck me that these items have great depth, that they reflect the visual culture that surrounds us. They are vectors of history, both collective and personal, and are tools for defining one’s identity. Among the works I presented were the silk scarves I designed in hommage to the Hermes-style souvenir scarves illustrated with Parisian landmarks that are sold beneath the Eiffel Tower. The traders that sell them are immigrants to Paris living at the margins of French society; they offer these images of the city to tourists from around the world. To me, these unauthorised traders are indissociable from the very images they sell.
Maison sac à dos ou Habit(acle), 2020
From the Latin habitaculum, ‘habitacle’ means small house.
In my work, I question that which surrounds the body, particularly clothing. In this respect, the individual is at the heart
of my thinking. Clothing and architecture have in common the individuals they are designed to cover and shield; I chose
to bring clothing and architecture together by designing a portable space responding to the needs of an imagined wearer
and describing the wearer’s identity. Dealing with clothing may seem superfluous, yet over the centuries it has become an essential part of human culture.
The garment has become a social and communicative object, its history defined by the evolving norms and protocols that govern its use.
With photography as its ornament, my Maison sac à dos is an augmented/exacerbated body, like a clothed body that would express itself in a unique way.
The tent raises questions of inclusion and exclusion, of the interior and the exterior. It symbolises the constant
negotiations that take place between the self and the surrounding cultural environment, our personal and spatial
mutations, with the somehow ghostly online world ever present. The scale of the work, which corresponds to that of a child, signifies this ambivalence.
— Chalisee Naamani