Rational Dress Society: Cultural Uniform

Cultural Uniform, Rational Dress Society, 2018. Commissioned by Art in General, New York.
Cultural Uniform, Rational Dress Society, 2018. Commissioned by Art in General, New York.


Jun 28, 2018–Aug 31, 2018
In Progress
Rational Dress Society: Cultural Uniform
New Commissions

Rational Dress Society: Cultural Uniform

Rational Dress Society
Curated by Laurel Ptak

June 28–August 31, 2018

Art in General presents Cultural Uniform, a New Commission by the Rational Dress Society, a counter-fashion collective founded by artist Maura Brewer and designer Abigail Glaum-Lathbury. In a dizzying moment characterized by fractures and divisions of many kinds in our political landscape, the project wonders what infrastructures of solidarity might look like inside art institutions and beyond them. What is the task of cultural labor in these times?

Across their practice, The Rational Dress Society explores dress as a contemporary expression of political and sartorial solidarity. They draw inspiration from a long and rich history of radical garments: from the Sans-culottes worn by the revolutionary movement in a show of class solidarity in early 19th-century France; to the Bloomers worn in the name of women’s liberation in the United States in the 1850s; to the Italian Tute Bianche’s precarious workers coveralls of the 1990s.

Cultural Uniform will be adopted as the official uniform of Art in General, created and sewn by the Rational Dress Society and shaped and worn by all of Art in General’s interns, fellows and staff from June 28, 2018 onward. The project draws directly upon the Rational Dress Society’s ongoing project, JUMPSUIT (2014–present), an ungendered monogarment for everyday wear deeply rooted in the visual language and history of work wear that questions hierarchies of class, gender, race that haunt our contemporary relation to dress.

At once a functional worker’s garment and self-reflexive durational performance, Cultural Uniform compels us to wonder what cultural work should look like in difficult political times? The garment will be warn and thus “on view” at Art in General’s exhibition space, office and residency studio during all open-to-the public programming or by individual appointment. Texts documenting and reflecting on what it means to wear Cultural Uniform, including a newly commissioned text by artist and writer Aliza Shvarts, will be launched online at www.artingeneral.org.

Cultural Uniform is curated by Laurel Ptak, Executive Director and Curator of Art in General with assistance from Marta Cacciavillani, Curatorial Fellow. Special thanks to Art in General’s summer 2018 team and uniform wearers: Bianca Felix Biberaj, Marta Cacciavillani, Olga Kostyrko, Annabel La Riva, Eriola Pira, Laurel Ptak, Jino Rahimi and Natalia Viera Salgado.

The Rational Dress Society is a counter-fashion collective founded by artist Maura Brewer and designer Abigail Glaum-Lathbury. Together they produce JUMPSUIT, an open source, ungendered monogarment to replace all clothes in perpetuity. JUMPSUIT has been presented at venues including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Machine Project in Los Angeles and the Dome of Visions in Copenhagen. The Rational Dress Society is a 2016 recipient of a Cultural Economic Development Fund grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation in Los Angeles, and received an International Cultural Exchange Grant from the Swedish Art Grants Committee in 2015. In 2018, the RDS curated the exhibition Omega Workshop at the EFA Project Space in New York. Cultural Uniform marks their first-ever garment commissioned for daily wear at an art institution. Recent press includes the Paris Review, the New York Times, the Guardian and others. www.jumpsui.it

Press Coverage:
CBS News. “The Universal Jumpsuit.” (August 2018). View Online

General Support of Art in General is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; the Toby D. Lewis Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, The Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; and by individuals. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

The New Commissions Program is made possible by the Trust for Mutual Understanding; National Endowment for the Arts; Jerome Foundation; Ruth Ivor Foundation; and the Milton and Sally Avery Foundation. Support has also been provided by: Commissioners’ Circle leaders Elaine Goldman, Richard Massey, Jeffery Larsen and Joseph Bolduc; Commissioners’ Circle supporters John and Andrea Nylund and David Solo; and Commissioners’ Circle members Nader Ansary, Rob Colangelo, Don Erenberg, Roya Khadjavi-Heidari, Mary Lapides, Eric Nylund, Leslie Ruff, Steve Shane, and Diana Wege.