As one of the most prominent Berlin-based culture jammers, Vermibus delves into a study of aesthetics suggested by fashion industries. While observing the uniformity of appearance and gestures associated with something that is universally accepted as beautiful, he aims to deconstruct the conventional meaning of the term and to retouch the photographs his own way. In order to do so, the artist travels to four cities on which the dominance of fashion takes its greatest toll, and he tries to shake the very core of the industry – which we already talked about, in two of our previous articles. After he visited New York and London, he went to Milan, which is the third city from the list. In a subtle, yet provocative manner, which he demonstrated clearly in the previous two fashion centers, Vermibus draws the attention from the apparent, artificial and almost inhuman beauty. However, instead of explicitly vandalizing the existing advertisements, he takes the posters and modifies them so that the difference between the original and the alternative seems less dramatic. The drama is hidden beneath the veils of the first impression, and starts to unravel once we allow ourselves to think about the true consequences of the order we are exposed to, and the culture that we are part of.
How Can We ever really Keep up?
Standard-setting is a political process, and even though a lot of people, including artists, occasionally react to the unreachable beauty of models that we are supposed to look up to, eventually it all seems to be in vain. Perhaps the tactics is wrong, or maybe we’re just inherently fascinated by the things we cannot achieve or possess, and therefore we are excessively trying to get close to them – which could be the reason why the fashion industry is so successful, in the first place. This endless game of catching up with the trends and chasing impossible dreams is followed by a serious amount of energy invested in something that seems possible, but never entirely is. Nevertheless, it becomes addictive, since all the direct and subliminal messages usually appear simultaneously. On one hand, we are surrounded by all the unnaturally looking women and men dressed in expensive clothes we are inclined to fall for, and on the other hand we are constantly hearing that we should “never give up” and should “keep on dreaming”. The combination of the two is a perfect advocate for fashion industries: you’ll never look like this (because no one does), but you shouldn’t give up, either.
Still, this upsetting matter is only that powerful if we allow it to be. Vermibus comes as a protagonist of that other stream, which is capable of interrupting the flow and changing the course of events, even if just for a while. If, from time to time, we get a reminder that not everything we see is real and not everything is that important, we might as well realize that, ultimately, not everything said to be beautiful actually is. With these ideas in mind, relating to Vermibus’ alternative versions of beauty seems more refreshing than adoring the traditional fashion icons. It is really easy to say that the all-too-familiar advertisements for famous brands look beautiful, but what about the modified versions, in which blandness of facial expression gets a whole other meaning?
Unveiling Beauty on the Streets of Milan
The title of the project, Unveiling Beauty, clarifies the nature of the context that Vermibus wants us to reflect on. He avoids being aggressive or too direct, and instead he uses the logic of defining beauty to compromise the term itself. If you take a look at the images of his interventions in Milan, you may even get the idea that some of these works were perhaps embraced as part of the fashion week’s bolder campaigns. This makes his works so clever and impactful. They give us another perspective on things, and criticize the popular, single-minded attitude, but in a very delicate way. Therefore, some people will maybe even pass by without noticing them properly (which shows how mechanical our perception has become), and some will stop and really think about why these models have no real facial features. Except, maybe, for the slightly forlorn eyes.