new-york

“Bare Witness”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In Pleasure of the Text, Roland Barthes asks, “Is not the most erotic portion of a body where the garment gapes? In perversion (which is the realm of textual pleasure) there are no ‘erogenous zones’ (a foolish expression, besides); it is intermittence, as psychoanalysis has so rightly stated, which is erotic: the intermittence of skin flashing between two articles of clothing (trousers and sweater), between two edges (the open-necked shirt, the glove and the sleeve); it is this flash itself that seduces, or rather the staging of an appearance-as-disappearance.” Since it is a kind of textuality, fashion provides the surest meditation on this space—the midriff between meaning and meaninglessness.

For “Bare Witness: Clothing and Nudity” curators Richard Martin and Harold Koda assembled stunning examples of the various revolutions in the history of revelation: from a late-18th-century robe à

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