Discover behind-the-scenes footage of the Turkish photographer’s journey through the Hatay region for A Magazine Curated By Erdem, travelling with little but a camera and a silk coat.
Feb 11, 2023: Ottessa Moshfegh journals for Proenza Schouler
Photography by Adam Katz Sinding
A#9 curators Proenza Schouler’s Autumn Winter 2023 collection was a pared down exercise in clean lines and sleek colours, underscored by the cohesion and elegance of a ‘complete wardrobe’ in place of thematic and visual narratives. Marking 20 years of collaboration, designers Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez first met while studying at Parsons School of Design and jointly presented their senior thesis.
Since their 2002 debut, the duo have been lauded for their exploration of patterns, colours and silhouettes, garnering five CDFA awards in the process, including the council’s inaugural award in 2004. Fast forward 20 years, the ingenues and the women who inspire their designs have matured, a fact their recent collection presented at the Chelsea Factory demonstrates.
Before the show began, what seemed to be a white wall on one side of the hall was backlit by three giant hurricane lamps, creating a shadow of the models lined up and bathed in warm light for a subtle glimpse of the backstage. A lucid, dream-like sequence of diary entries written by American author Ottessa Moshfegh, over a musical composition by Venezuelan musician Arca, was narrated by American actress Chloë Sevigny (who also opened the runway).
Below is an exclusive portfolio of backstage imagery from the Proenza Schouler show, complemented by the full text of Moshfegh’s musings that span the course of a day and capture profound thoughts of banality amidst the New York noise.
DIARY ENTRIES BY OTTESSA MOSHFEGH
Last night there was a party for a young artist uptown. I didn’t really want to go because I’d seen the work and wasn’t crazy about it, but I knew Claudine would be there and I hadn’t seen her since she’d moved back from Berlin. I was glad I went. It had been gray all day, it rained. Everyone who came into the gallery that day had tracked water around, which made perfect sense with the show because one of the main themes is transience, and I always think of water as a transient substance. The sky had cleared by the time I left, and I decided to walk to the party from the gallery because when I got outside the air had a magic twinge in it, that rare thing in the city where you need to be moving and it feels electric and your mind is talking to you in this perfect wav and it feels so good to be walking and looking around. Like nobody can see you. It reminded me of a dream l used to have when I was little.
Charlotte came home from school with a scratch across her forehead. She wouldn’t tell me how it happened until I swore to her l’d keep it a secret. It made me nervous but it wasn’t a deep scratch, I only noticed it when I was brushing her hair. But she seemed really private about it, like it had been the mark in some secret ritual she’d been a part of. Sometimes watching her grow up makes me feel like I’m floating in outer space. Like this is her world and I’m just visiting. When she tells me what she’s learned about her life, I’m really taken aback sometimes. Like the first time you hear a friend speak in a different language, their native language. A language you don’t know.
Just had dinner and put Charlotte to bed. I told Paul I couldn’t go with him to Rudy’s next week. He didn’t care at all. Maybe he’s just jet lagged. Sometimes I wonder if his poems about loneliness are better when I leave him alone, like somehow I’m screwing it up for him. He left to meet Robin for a drink. I have a headache. I’m working too much but I can’t stop. I’m tired. I wish we could go away for the weekend but we’re shooting the new show. I love Rachel. When people talk about her, they make it sound like she’s this brutal realist, like she’s capturing something everybody sees and nobody wants to look at. To me, her paintings are about history and intimacy and an ancient nostalgia for a truth we’ve lost somewhere along the way. Maybe that all makes perfect sense. People don’t reallv want to look at truth, and it’s everywhere. Everything feels simple like that these days. Maybe I’m just tired. Things feel simple when I’m tired. Wake. Food. Dress. Dog. Walk. Kiss Charlotte goodbye at the gate. Work. Work. Work
When I was little, l had dreams about flying through the city at night, while my parents were asleep. l looked up what it means. It means freedom of constraints or limitations in waking life. In the dream, l was flying up 1st Avenue, looking through all the high up windows. Most people were asleep inside their apartments or watching television or playing boardgames, and there were a lot of yellow cabs on the street. l felt perfectly safe flying. I could look up at the clear black sky and feel like I could fly forever. List of constraints, maybe it will help. #1: time. #2: expectations. #3: language. #4: the speed of light…
I took Yasmin to lunch after the studio visit. Her work perplexed me actually. All about birds. She’s been using scraps of canvas and trash from the flower district to make nests, studying the architecture of nests she finds in Central Park. Some of the feathers she collected are really beautiful. Yasmin scares me a little. I don’t think she takes good care of herself, and I think she needs to go out and have more fun. I told her to wear gloves when she handles trash. She looked at me with pity after l said it. Like, oh poor you, you’re so afraid. It made me kind of angry. The way l get angry at a great work of art for making me feel small.
Listened to “Disintegration” on the subway to Brooklyn. Thinking about my old angst. The duty of youth was to challenge corruption, that’s what it used to be. I don’t know what the duty of youth is anymore. It’s so overwhelming and enormous and it’s also so banal. Maybe ideology is a luxury, maybe you need to divorce yourself from society to live ideologically. I don’t know how else to challenge corruption than to just opt out. Move to the country somewhere. Light candles. Take photographs of grass and insects and clouds. Raise Charlotte on food from our garden, water from our own well. A few chickens. Paul and I dreamed of doing that when we first met.
Today at work someone came in off the street and asked for a recommendation for a quiet place to sit and read. I couldn’t think of anywhere. Not one place in the neighborhood. He looked at the art for a while and then he went back out into the rain. I went to my office and shut the door and read a book. I didn’t check my email or answer the phone. I need to do that more often.
Yasmin told me a Sufi legend about birds. I tried retelling it to Charlotte at bedtime but I’m sure I got it wrong. In the story, every bird represents a human fault, and there are a thousand birds. The birds decide to go off in search of their leader. They have to cross seven valleys to find her. Love, knowledge, detachment, unity, wonderment, annihilation. Something else. When they realize there’s this difficult way ahead, most of them make up an excuse and go home. The nightingale, the parrot, the peacock. They almost all quit. In the end, only thirty birds make it. When they get to where they’re going, they find a lake and look down and they see themselves in the reflection, and they realize that they’re their own leader. Together, they’ve been guiding themselves… I don’t know. Yasmin didn’t go on to explain what it meant to her. I don’t feel like I’m looking for a leader. I know what my leader is. It’s gravity. It’s the weight of my life keeping me on the ground.
Universal Gestures: Giuseppe Penone at the Galleria Borghese, Rome
Set against the 17th century splendour of the Villa Borghese, a fabled backdrop for classical and contemporary art, the Italian artist gently intertwines human and natural histories through monumental sculpture.
‘1997 Fashion Big Bang’ at the Palais Galliera, Paris
A new exhibition explores the cataclysmic shifts of fashion in 1997, a pivotal moment where avant-garde and luxury players laid the roadmap for the new millennium.