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Title: Maltese fashion post 1970 : cultural lateness and transgression
Authors: Azzopardi, Luke
Keywords: Fashion -- Malta -- History -- 20th century
Postmodernism -- Malta
Issue Date: 2017
Abstract: Maltese Fashion Post 1970: Cultural Lateness and Transgression starts with the rejection of the term fashion as referring solely to clothing in the broader capitalist context. In this study, fashion does not merely refer to the notion of clothing, but also denotes the production, distribution and consumption of the body as an artwork. This dissertation starts off with the seemingly contentious premise that anything can be considered an artwork as long as it looks ‘made’. Whether canonical works by Maltese foremost authorities, or simply a symptom of unconscious societal fads, the works analysed in this dissertation are not subjected to judgements of taste, that draw on a dichotomised definition of art as being either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In discussing lowbrow aesthetics, this research project sheds light on Malta’s position with regard to postmodern aesthetics, or rather, what the dissertation defines as ‘disaesthetics’. It also brings to bear on its overarching rationale commonplace and ‘pop’ design, and puts this under an art historical lens, ultimately presenting the postmodernist object as reverential. In this way, the research addresses the question of what happens to postmodernism that either comes too late or lingers, and of the role that Beauty place in such a scenario, if any. As a result, the problem of artistic relevancy in design scene in Malta post 1970 is also implicitly tackled. Moreover, Maltese Fashion Post 1970: Cultural Lateness and Transgression draws attention to post-1970 exercises in kitsch and trash in Maltese culture, as expressed in decorative and applied arts. Broadly speaking, postmodernism is addressed as a lingering phenomenon. Postmodernism is a slippery term that eludes a pragmatic sense of definition, and discussing its potential regional evolutions and offshoots can be a problematic and daunting task, and the act of placing such a discussion with the parameters of applied theories, can justifiably be considered academically facetious. This dissertation proposes to address these difficulties and conceptual nuances by looking at the notion of fashion. As a topic of choice, fashion is neither random nor arbitrary. Fashion is the perfect point between highbrow and lowbrow culture; between fine art installation and the decorative arts; between the utmost flat popular cultural trends, and on the other hand, deep and often unconscious nuggets of information that are rooted into a country’s identity. Very often one finds themselves floored when seeing how a gown, more than architecture or fine art, manages to say so much without trying to say anything at all. This is, after all, what this dissertation presents as the curse of postmodernism: it is bound to mystify itself and transcend its own flatness. Although not much has been written about fashion theory and its relationship to the future of postmodernism, and that which has been written often forms part of unacademic discourse, fashion is incredibly easy to have theory applied to. It works on a multitude of conceptual levels and seems to satisfy all criteria for analysis, with examples ranging from trash, to the vulgar, to low kitsch and high kitsch, to conscious postmodern collage, to the Beautiful and the True, and finally, the sublime. Indeed Maltese Fashion of Post-1970: Cultural Lateness and Transgression is as much about lateness and transgression, in their terminological sense, as it is about their relation to fashion itself. It attempts to explore both abstract philosophy, as well as the history of design, without ever privileging one at the expense of the other.
Description: M.A.HIST.OF ART
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacArt - 2017
Dissertations - FacArtHa - 2017

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