MET Gala Announces Its 2020 Theme: About Time: Fashion and Duration

Vogue reporting that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced theme of the 2020 Met Gala and the accompanying Costume Institute exhibition: “About Time: Fashion and Duration.”

Per the outlet:

The New York institution will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a series of exhibitions, many of which will put the spotlight on masterworks in its collections, as well as new acquisitions made as part of the 2020 Collections Initiative in honor of the anniversary. In keeping with the year’s theme, today the Met announced that the Costume Institute’s spring exhibition will showcase a century-and-a-half of fashion history culled from its archive and presented along a “disruptive” timeline. “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” says Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, takes a “nuanced and open-ended” approach. “It’s a reimagining of fashion history that’s fragmented, discontinuous, and heterogeneous.”

Bolton found inspiration for the exhibition in the 1992 Sally Potter film Orlando, which was based on the time-traveling Virginia Woolf novel of the same name. “There’s a wonderful scene,” he says, “in which Tilda Swinton enters the maze in an 18th-century woman’s robe à la Francaise, and as she runs through it, her clothes change to mid-19th-century dress, and she reemerges in 1850s England. That’s where the original idea came from.”

Virginia Woolf acts as the show’s “ghost narrator,” with quotes from her time-based books including OrlandoMrs. Dalloway, and To the Lighthouse appearing throughout the exhibition, not unlike how Susan Sontag’s quotes guided viewers through this year’s Camp: Notes on Fashion show. The philosopher Henri Bergson, whose concept of la durée—time that flows, accumulates, and is indivisible—also provided some of the show’s framework. In addition, Michael Cunningham, whose novel The Hours, a postmodernist reading of Mrs. Dalloway, won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize, will contribute a short story to the exhibition’s catalogue. “What I like about Woolf’s version of time is the idea of a continuum,” Bolton says. “There’s no beginning, middle, or end. It’s one big fat middle. I always felt the same about fashion. Fashion is the present.”

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