Front of House Fashion Survey
A fashion survey of invigilator uniforms sourced from the network. Timed to coincide with London Fashion Week.
11th Febuary - 24th Febuary. Live performance 18th Febuary 17.00 - 20.00
In a choreographed event, uniformed performers inhabited the window gallery spaces, enacting gestures, activities and poses which mimiced the physical vocabularies of gallery guards. These included watch checking, reading, radio calls, sitting, standing motionlessly and making eye contact with viewers. In a further examination of gallery practices and the relationship between art institutes and labour, the exhibition IRN paid their performers an industry rate (£11.88 per hour) and the evening was structured to mirror the timings of a standard invigilator shift.
The exhibition was spread across two Window Galleries: one acted as a “backstage” area for workers to rest in, drink coffee and change into their uniforms, while the other was a front of house area – the exhibition space. While normally this space would house artworks, here, the gallery staff uniforms were on display.
While installing the exhibition, IRN became aware of UAL: End Outsourcing, a campaign at UAL demanding that the university ends the exploitative outsourcing of its lowest paid staff. We included some of their material in the installation, and offer solidarity here. In house now!
Invigilator Research Network presented a fashion survey of gallery and museum uniforms from across London’s art institutions – all sourced from current or former invigilators in the network. Coinciding with London Fashion Week 2019, the exhibition took place in Central Saint Martins’ Window Galleries. Situated in an art and design college with strong connections to the fashion industry, the exhibition explored the potential of gallery and museum uniforms as ready-to-wear garments.
These uniforms, bearing the colour scheme and logo of an institution, perform a complex action by making the wearer both instantly recognisable and completely invisible. In an institutional setting, this same leitmotif occurs across the building, marketing materials, digital platforms and the bodies of its workers. These factors blend into one homogenous entity, creating a backdrop to the “Art.” In contrast, this exhibition brought gallery uniforms to the forefront, re-examining the iconography of institutional worker uniforms in the art world.
Supported by the Artsadmin Artists’ Bursary Scheme 2018-19