Kathy Acker's Clothes


After the death of Kathy Acker in November of 1997, during the summer of 1999, I made a photographic study of the clothes of the avant garde writer. The series entails photographs, 154 in total, of uninhabited clothes. The clothes do not represent the complete archive of jeans, shoes, lingerie, stockings but are already a selection made by me with the assistance of wtiter, Matias Viegener, both a close personal friend of Acker’s and the executer of her estate. The effects of selfhood and identity are present, but the self is absent. Acker’s clothes were polyvocal, loud, and encyclopedic.

In order to play with the personas and fabrics, I suspended the clothes from invisible thread in a white space and animated the sleeves, hems and coat tails. The clothes hang with the arms akimbo, the skirts and coat tails flipping, the high concept designer wear is extended to form geometric or organic shapes. The clothes vary in style from expensive designer wear to everyday blue jeans. Sexy lingerie, black lace, little girl white dresses, sailor suits, sophisticated black dresses, biker costumes, decorated leather jackets and tailored jackets make a portrait of a personality that was not at all bound to convention or contained within a singular style. This love of clothes led her to collect Vivianne Westwood, Betsy Johnson, John Paul Gautier, and many others both outrageous and classic. To those who don't know Acker's work, there is a fascination in imagining the persona of one who wore such clothes.

Twenty of the photographs from Kathy Acker's Clothes were premiered at the third Berlin Biennale in 2004.