München Kunst

Review. Free Easy Prisoner

Some 400 km from Vienna, in a backyard scene of Schellingstrasse, Caro Jost and Tom Rebl show the world that art and fashion have always been intertwined. A fashion show with models, who themselves come from the creative scene, half-ad-libbed poses and experimental krautrock sounds. The backstage is located directly in the warehouse space of Walter Stroms Gallery. A review by Erka Shalari.
Walter Storms Galerie in München
‚SEE YOU‘ Capsule Collection by Tom Rebl x Caro Jost, Walter Storms Gallery, 2023. Photography: David Springl

We wonder why everything is written in capital letters, why the presence of language is so strong on these garments. But then, when seeing Caro Jost’s work, you realise that this focus has been there with her for decades. We are part of a fashion show that moves and is staged in such a way that many of our senses are set into motion – the visual, the auditive, the palpable. This combination of fashion and language makes you feel alive. This capsule collection has come to life from the first collaboration of the designer Tom Rebl with artist Caro Jost. As an output, we have a very limited number of work coats, hip or knee-high, in 4 different colour ranges.

The textiles have a certain rigidity; perhaps Caro Jost’s statements, retrieved from artworks from the last couple of years, need particular materialities to exist, to reveal their inherent power and same time, indicate that what we see written on the front is not always what it is in our core or how it actually works in life. Maybe it is me that has ceased to believe in stability and instead approaches transience as the only scenario. Or perhaps this is our Zeitgeist. Every jacket is a one-off. Then a zip-fastening neckband, where is written „SEE WHAT IS NEXT“embodies imprints of the past. It is the only piece that has been produced fifty times.

Even though the models pose alone most of the time, there are some moments in the choreography where we see them positioning themselves in static positions next to each other. This way, in front of our eyes, we simultaneously see different statements, together creating an expanded text. Jost is known for her decades-old technique of freezing fleeting moments and artifacts and, correspondingly, for the use of language in her works. The statement has been split into the front and the back. We read, for example, in the back of an orange coloured jacket, „FREE PRISONER OF MYSELF“ and from the other side „FREE & EASY“, or „YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING YOU CANT DO NOTHING“ and then „BE EPIC“.

Rebl and Jost are as well modelling this evening. On Jost’s jacket is written „MORE ART MORE LOVE MORE YOU“, around it is drawn a rectangular square. These texts look like wanting to hatch us inside new roles, inside of stories with two sides and incongruities, precisely like our entire life is. Yet, we can read and interpret these lines in different ways. It reminds me of a body of work by Sophie Calle, „Prenez soin de Vois“, where she decided to send to 107 women an „Is over“ email that she got from her that time lover, to decipher. These chosen statements open up new possibilities for seeing things.

The Capsule Collection is at the same time, a celebration, a unification of art and fashion, an act that shows us that art and fashion have never been separated and that fashion is not only fabric, style and cutting. To understand fashion, says Resch in an essay from 2010, you need a second look at the models ¹.

Intended not all the models come from traditional modelling, in fact, they are filmmakers, contemporary dancers, jewellery designers, friends, and lovers. When the walk is at the end, when live band Ubu Imperator stops playing and the crowd praises, one can join an adjacent room, which has a coathanger bar on which hang the pieces of the collection, along a few mannequins. In this room, instead of a mirror, we see a large format work by Jost, where is written: „SILENCE IS PART OF THE DIALOGUE. TALK TO ME“ – mirror effects in the surface, probably a film foil, and then four narrow vertical sculptures. There are pointed out the genesis of the statements before they interacted with the vogue of Rebl. Jost is extraordinarily happy to have worked with the designer, maybe this will open a new phase of her life, expanding on the sophisticated intellectualisation of her artistic work. “Fashion makes you feel a certain lightness, opened towards the world and your body”, she said. Bright eyes, throbbing hearts, lightness, performing, passion, desire for ravishing moments and desire to continue to discuss these statements. I land with some of these characters in a post-show situation, first on a taxi ride and then in a Munich flat. It looks like if I heard the words of Resch, „This requires a second look“.

Address and contact:
Concept Store Tom Rebl
Dienerstrasse 8, 80331, Munich

Walter Storms Gallery
Schellingstraße 48, 80799, Munich

Tom Rebl studied at the German Meisterschule für Mode and at St. Martin’s College. During his life in London, he worked for Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, Luella, Marjan Pejoski, Issa and others. He was also a stylist for „The Face“ and „i-D“ magazines. In 2005, Rebl worked as creative director for Andrew MacKenzie. Shortly afterwards, he became an independent designer with his label, TOM REBL. Throughout all collections, the lips function as the label’s logo and recognition value. After 15 years in Milan, Rebl decided to return to Munich in 2022. Besides exciting philosophies in design, Rebl strives to work green, sustainable, ultimately with mainly dead stocks. Together with his students in the fashion school where he lectures, he is constantly experimenting. One of the latest projects consists of deconstructing Bridal clothes. In April 2023, he designed the Capsule Collection „SEE You“ together with the artist Caro Jost, consisting on workwear that has in various places of their surface placative statements from Jost. Limited in 22 pieces and a limited edition of a zipper scarf. 

Caro Jost studied Fine Art in New York and Munich. She appropriates traces, foreign archival materials, found objects or memories, which she transforms into autonomous artworks of both autobiographical and social relevance. For her, text is virtually a working material and at the same time a strong reflection of the „Zeitgeist“ and our society. In 2000 Caro started to build up her own personal archive and since then she has been collecting the material for her works on worldwide trips to historical sites, artists‘ studios or their archives. In 2021 she receives the Grant by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Her works are included in numerous international collections, such as most recently the AkzoNobel Art Foundation, Amsterdam and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus Munich. For the ´SEE YOU` capsule collection Caro has used selected quotes and statements from her recent series of works. The artist’s work is represented by Walter Storms Gallery, Britta Rettberg, Munich, Slewe Gallery, Amsterdam; BlueriderArt, Taiwan, London.

Neo-krautrock trio UBU IMPERATOR emerged in early 2022 in Munich and have since been on tour with their own compositions. In numerous jam sessions, a constellation of guitar, drums, and synthesizers gradually evolved, navigating the most diverse realms from the dreamy to the dramatic, from harmonies to noise, from rhythm to chaos.

Erka Shalari is an independent art writer. She works as an editor at the Austrian magazine Les Nouveaux Riches and is the founder and director at Vera Frontfrau Studio.

¹Resch, S (2010): Kunst am Körper, In: Süddeutschezeitung, https://www.sueddeutsche.de/leben/mode-kunst-am-koerper-1.254322