New York

Beverly Semmes


Introducing a mutant version of women’s fashion, the “clothes” in Beverly Semmes installation questioned the conventions that have determined the production of women’s clothing and thus the presentation of their bodies. By exaggerating the size and distorting the shapes of female apparel, Semmes surreally reconfigured the normative distinction between the body of the subject and the clothing that both masks and represents it. These sculptures did not merely figure an absent body, they forced us to examine how our perception of it is constructed.

Tucked away in a closet, Sliced Dress (all works 1992), a plaid wool dress with conservative collar and long sleeves, hanging on a wood-and-metal hanger, sported shoulders extending from wall to wall. What first looked like perfectly pressed pleats were, in fact, incisions in the fabric—the full bodice and skirt cut into narrow vertical panels. The

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