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TITLE Review by Susan Kendzulak September 28, 2008 LINK Something To Wear - Ros Ruey Solo Exhibition Rosa Ruey - CV Artist Statement Rosa Ruey’s solo exhibition titled “Something to Wear” debuted at the Ju Ming Museum June 28 to September 28, 2008. For the New York-based artist who does performance, installation, mixed media and video, this was a coup, as hers was the inaugural show for the Body/Fashion series of exhibitions that the museum is sponsoring.

Ruey’s exhibition is a childlike playground of whimsy and fantasy as candy-colored hues of various fabrics and multi-media interactive installations are on display. Sculpturally arranged, the chromatic works of lime greens, hot pinks and aqua blues are from two series created from 2005 to 2008: the Wearables and the Movables. The Wearables series include ten articles of clothing and the Movables are a series of eight three-dimensional works functioning as props to the clothing.

The opening night performance consisted of models wearing the conceptual clothing and demonstrating to the audience the absurdity and silliness in these items that strive to solve social problems. Although the works of clothing are installed to be looked at as aesthetic objects, they actually derive their real power from people wearing them. The performance aspect of the work is one of its key elements, as once the viewer puts on the article of clothing, he or she “performs” it. For Ruey, clothing is a vehicle that allows us to be aware of our environment, spatial arrangements and more importantly the sociological relationships, both superficial and meaningful ones, we have with other people.

Whimsical and brightly hued fabrics are stitched together that appear to be regular clothing, until you notice that the collar is askew or that the sleeves are too long. Even though Ruey creates items to be worn, their function differs from that of those made for the fashion world as these are not trendy designs with the latest styling and tailoring. The function of Ruey’s clothes is not to appear stylish, but rather, in a paradoxical way, make the wearer more aware of what’s psychologically and emotionally inside than focusing on what’s on the outside.

In “Something to wear...when you clean up someone else’s mess,” a rubber glove is attached to a long sleeved dress. So literally, the wearer can wipe away a gooey mess easily, but Ruey’s text explanation implies a metaphorical meaning in that we can help our loved ones clean up the messes in their lives. If only it were as simple as donning a pair of rubber gloves and picking up a roll of paper towels. Ruey hints at the messiness of human life and how it really is impossible to clean up a messy relationship and a chaotic life. Underlying this piece is the implication that AROUND THE WORLD it is a woman’s JOB to clean up after others, both literally as in doing laundry and figuratively as in wiping away a child’s tear or mending a relationship, which is why this piece of clothing is feminine and not masculine

Ruey calls her work “Fantastic Functionalism” in that it is not merely an aesthetic object to be looked at but that the object imbues power when it is worn, shared, and performed by the viewer. It is the viewer’s interaction and relation to Ruey’s work that discloses a deeper examination of social practice. These sociological pieces never explore the negative and dark aspects of the psyche however, and stay positive, happy and playful. It is as if she gives us license to be children once again and to look at our very complicated grown-up messy lives through the eyes of innocent babes. The fantasy playground she provides creates a safe and enjoyable space for us to explore our “inner child.”

In “Something to wear...when you don't want to talk about the weather,” frayed strips of multi-colored cloth hang from a lime green collar. What is striking about the piece is it seems anti-fashion as it is not a scarf, shirt or shawl while being haphazardly sewn together. Looking like a demented craft project gone awry, it really does become a conversation piece. It is coordinated with a mini-sandbox (sans sand) and a hot pink and blue parasol. Ruey writes that “when you don't want to talk about the weather assists those times when you're looking for more meaningful conversations.”

In text form Ruey presents her work like ad copy selling the idea of the functionality of the clothing item. So in “Something to wear...when you get in a fight with yourself,” her humorous text reads “Confronting ourselves is an overwhelming task but highly necessary. Are there times in daily life you find that you and yourself just can’t agree? … offers two solutions. This multi-functional Wearable’s long sleeves can be used as a jump rope. This enables you to calm yourself down and have a reasonable inner conversation. The second solution is to simply use the long arms to choke yourself. Someone has to win.” Here she provides a way in for viewers to understand her work by providing the conceptual parameters in which to comprehend it. Yet, this type of detailed written explanation may be doing all the work for the viewer by decoding and limiting the meanings of the work, as the reader may be just satisfied with this text and not want to think of alternative readings.

Ruey’s architectural-based pieces have a clothing sensibility to them as they have soft, rather, than hard edges. In “SS (Social Security),” a blue and orange cloth kiosk that seems like a headless Olive Oyl cartoon figure with arms flung wide open, seems to offer a warm embrace in an inhospitable world or the safe place in the amusement park where lost children can run to. While the interactive “Something to wear...when ideals lose the I” focuses on psychology and the exploration between “you” and “I” in a playful way as viewers can don eye shades taken from a U-shaped box.

Rosa Ruey takes a keen look at today’s world and tries to soften its harshness through a rainbow world of child-like fantasy and by creating an environment in which people can form playful interactions.

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