HELMUT LANG, hl-art archive, 1986–2005

032c workshop is pleased to present the first-ever exhibition of HELMUT LANG’s digitized fashion archive. Of the 10,000 items of Lang’s design that have been photographed and archived over the past four years, 3,000 were selected to be included in a video documenting his work in fashion, spanning a period of nearly two decades—and simultaneously embodying his creative role at the crossroads of fashion and art.

Since the 1980s, Helmut Lang has been known for his simple, pared-down aesthetic and deconstructivist approach to clothing design, through which he has taken sharp silhouettes and cutting edge fabrics to a new level of refined minimalism. “hl-art archive” reveals his process of taking apart: within the video, cummerbunds morph into ties, which in turn melt into elbow-length gloves; shirts and tank tops are reduced to their pure, skeletal forms; skirts are stripped bare to single bands of fabric. Each category of clothing is represented and then reduced, to its architectural core. Image after image a narrative emerges, one in which forms become more sophisticated by a process of reduction. As Helmut Lang once said in an interview, it is “simplicity as complexity distilled”—a revelation of a basic architecture beneath every garment, and a common, core vocabulary behind a vast collection of 10,000 articles of clothing.

With this exhibition, 032c workshop continues its exploration of the archive. With art collective Slavs and Tatars’ found and reprinted historical documents, and Haus der Kunst director Chris Dercon’s collected architectural ephemera and artifacts, 032c workshop investigated the idea of the archive in all its incarnations—from its mixed forms to its varied significance in both personal and historical realms. A simultaneous archaeology of fashion history and of the history of a brand, “ hl-art archive” brings a diverse spectrum of objects together as a coherent artwork, distilling an underlying aesthetic and a unifying philosophy.

Helmut Lang was born in Vienna, Austria in 1956. In 2005, he left the Helmut Lang label and began devoting himself to research and practice in the arts, having already collaborated with artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Jenny Holzer. “Alles gleich schwer,” his first institutional solo exhibition, premiered on August 29, 2008, at Hannover’s kestnergesellschaft. Lang currently lives and works in New York City and Long Island.

An interview with Helmut Lang appeared under the title “The Searching Stays With You” in 032c #3.