Boston CIA Presents Virgil Abloh’s Latest Multimedia Exhibit
All photos courtesy of Mel Taing
The powerful art of a fashion icon is making waves at the ICA.
You know that old question: “What is art?” Virgil Abloh responds by throwing the rulebook out the window of his “Figures of Speech” exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
Here, sneakers are art. So it is with a half-pipe, a concrete block covered in graffiti, a screenshot of a FaceTime call and a fashion collection in which the streetwear harmonizes perfectly with luxury. They are the culmination of Abloh’s years of observing the culture, and they speak loudly, especially to a young and diverse audience.
Although he’s probably best known as the current artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear, Abloh defies categorization (in his own words, he’s “allergic to disciplines”). He’s also an architect, DJ, artist, fashion icon and graphic designer who has done everything from designing album covers for Kanye West to building a fashion brand. White.
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But according to Abloh, he doesn’t do art for accolades (which may be what makes him so perfect for the job). He is there for others to find their own way.
“It’s made for a 14-year-old to walk in here and see something they’re related to,” Abloh said of his work in front of an ICA panel before unveiling the exhibit. “And the light bulb goes out in their head and they’re like: I have it.”
In the Black Gaze Room, a neon sign “You are obviously in the wrong place” shines on art that explores black culture in the United States and specifically challenges the exclusion of black designers by the fashion industry. Another striking piece is a review of Abloh’s first fashion line used as a welcome mat for museum visitors.
The exhibit, curated by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, is open until September 26, 2021. Abloh said Boston is a suitable place thanks to its strong community.
“I love the idea of placing the exhibit here so that it can kind of be a bridge to create a dialogue with kids reflecting on their own practice,” Abloh said.
INSIDER ADVICEIf you like Abloh’s work, take a look at the museum’s photographic collaboration between artist OJ Slaughter and the ICA teens, inspired by Abloh and the theme ‘breaking the rules’.
The surroundings of the museum, Seaport, blends well with the experience of contemporary art. In recent years, it has transformed from a sea of parking lots and industrial buildings to a hotspot of trendy arts and culture.
After visiting the museum, stroll around to spot art installations and murals, community events including pop-up shops, fitness classes on the putting green, and a monthly Black Owned Boston Market. Dine at trendy restaurants like Committee (and traditional eateries like Barking Crab), grab coffee and a sticky bun at Flour, or take in the views from the bustling Lookout Rooftop and Bar at Envoy Hotel. You will find that the neighborhood and the exhibit are the best way to see Boston from a new perspective.