Press Releases : 2013/09

`Fashion: the Fall of an Industry'

Published 2013/09/27

Elisabeth Haarr, EEC – threatening us (EEC – truer oss), 1972
© Elisabth Haarr / BONO 2013
Photo: Jette Petersen

Norsk versjon


'Fashion: the Fall of an Industry'

17 October–12 December 2013
Thursdays, 7pm /
11 December 2013
Wednesday, 7pm

Office for Contemporary Art Norway
Nedre Gate 7
0551 Oslo

In Norway, like in other countries, the handicrafts of today have their origins in quite diverse requirements. They are cultivated, in part, in an attitude of protest against a spreading industrialisation process.
— Alf Bøe, Norwegian Craftsmen Today, 1973

For me sewing is about politics, re-conquering a form of expression that for too many is affiliated with the bourgeoisie and the Victorian era, but it is something that everyone has done in every corner of the world throughout history. I sew because I am a woman and want to tell others that this is our language. I sew because I don't believe in equalisation, but emancipation. Equalisation is about women becoming like men and men like women, while emancipation involves self-respect and an understanding of the culture, so one can break down barriers in one’s own condition.
— Elisabeth Haarr, ‘Fantasy in Service of the People’, 2008

What I create is far from the ‘classically academic’. Sugai & Tamayo, Billie Holiday, Garner & Mingus have all been my role models. Ornament, symmetry and rhythm are my starting points, more than anatomy and realism. Poetry and folk music stand closer to me than the ‘Old Masters’. The visual language and the experience is important, not the ‘art’. The experience value is the true value for the sender and receiver, not the price tag.
— Sidsel Paaske, Moments [Eye-gazes], undated

OCA presents 'Fashion: the Fall of an Industry', a programme of lectures analysing the period of the 1970s in Norway, which saw a decline of employment in the textile industry. Through the interplay of garments, textile-production techniques and weaving processes, artists such as Brit Fuglevaag, Elisabeth Haarr and Sidsel Paaske found expression in a worldwide wave of labour militancy, developing techniques and practices fuelled by a strong sense of political entitlement.

Typically located in small communities in the western part of the country, Norwegian textile industry employment fell by 41% during the 1970s, creating a phenomenon of reabsorptive recruitment with the expansion of the welfare state as employer. While this passage created turmoil in other Scandinavian and Western countries, in Norway the role of the state became prominent, witnessing a passage of the majority of the employees from the industry into the welfare state.

Artists took different positions in their work, reacting to and reflecting upon the insurgent issues of industrialisation in its more unforeseen aspects: the need of care for both the environment and workers, the outsourcing of production and its social consequences.

When growth began to falter in the late 1960s, in the midst of a post-war crisis felt throughout the Western world, the endemic conflict between capitalist markets and democratic politics, which up until then had sustained the political-economic peace formula between capital and labour (with a combination of an expanding welfare state, the rights of workers to free collective bargaining, regular wage increases, governments commitment to full employment) led to turbulence which pre-empted and shaped a global crisis. The programme will provide a historical view upon how local policies shaped different reactions in different countries and upon the alignment of global patterns of concerns.


Thursday, 17 October, 7pm
In the Shadow of the Beat Generation. Norwegian Textile Art Crossing Borders 1960–1980
Jorunn Haakestad

Thursday, 24 October, 7pm
94 Years Later: Putting the Bauhaus into Perspective. On Art & Design, Identity & Gender
Anja Baumhoff

Thursday, 31 October, 7pm
Photography and Fashion in Mali
Manthia Diawara

Thursday, 7 November, 7pm
On Textile Structures
Rike Frank

Thursday, 14 November, 7pm
Feminism, Trockel Fashion
Anne Wagner

Thursday, 21 November, 7pm
On Beauty: Textile Aesthetics within a Feminist Perspective
Elisabeth Haarr
Followed by a conversation with Jan-Lauritz Opstad, Brit Fuglevaag and Benedicte Sunde

Thursday, 28 November, 7pm
Radical Design as Resistance: Rei Kawakubo and Her Followers
Yuko Hasegawa

Thursday, 5 December, 7pm
Division of Labour: Textile as a Gendered Medium in Norwegian Art in the 1970s
Jorunn Veiteberg

Wednesday, 11 December, 7pm
Globalisation, Image Production and La Javanaise
Wendelien Van Oldenborgh
Followed by a conversation with Mike Sperlinger

Thursday, 12 December, 7pm
Costumes, Textiles, Music
Linder Sterling
in conversation with Anne Hilde Neset
Followed by Rob Young presenting an audio-illustrated lecture on the connections between textiles, costumes and philosophies of sound and performance

For press inquiries and to obtain press images, please contact OCA's Acting Web and Information Manager Petter Dotterud Anthun.

'Fashion: the Fall of an Industry' is organised in cooperation with the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO), Visual Arts Department (Kunstfag). The closing event of the programme is organised in collaboration with nyMusikk, Oslo.