As part of its long-term partnership with Het Nieuwe Instituut, the Rotterdam-based collective Concrete Blossom has developed an on-site programme of events and activities to complement the exhibition The Hoodie, co-organised with the team behind Thursday Night Live! Based on the central question of who and what makes the hoodie cool, The Hoodie Unravelled deconstructs this fascinating item of clothing in a variety of ways. The multi-location on-site-programme in Rotterdam consists of a series of (closed) workshops, public lectures, several special editions of Thursday Night Live! and other events such as mini exhibitions and a film evening.
On-site programme ‘The Hoodie Unravelled’
The on-site programme comprises four closed workshops, three publicly accessible events curated by local makers, two on-site editions of Thursday Night Live! and a concluding house party. The programme kicks off with a master class on 14 December 2019.
In the workshops, three selected makers will exchange ideas with their own supporters, their network and the Concrete Blossom team, thus preparing themselves for the events for which they are responsible, They will also make their own hoodies, which will later be given a place in the (off-site) exhibition The Hoodie at Het Nieuwe Instituut. Each of the three public events will explore a narrative about the hoodie as an interpretation of the theme ‘cool and the politics of value creation’.
The events, some on-site and others off-site, explore various facets of the hoodie, including the opportunities, problems and traps associated with presenting living culture in a museum exhibition. Dates, speakers and a more detailed programme will be made available soon.
The programme is paired with extensive photographic, audio and video documentation by Concrete Blossom and web designers Brand New Guys, a selection of which will be presented on Het Nieuwe Instituut’s website. Keep an eye on this website and Concrete Blossom’s website for regular updates.
The hoodie’s ‘cool’ value?
Hoodies are sold by the luxury fashion brands for enormous sums of money, they are featured in all the fashion magazines, they have become the new uniform in many workplaces, and they are presented by various cultural institutions as contemporary museum pieces. The hoodie has an economic, practical and cultural value whose origin is not always clear or evident. Hoodies had a particular significance for many people long before The Hoodie project was conceived and will continue to do so long after the exhibition has closed. In addition to celebrating the fact that counterculture has been given a decisive voice, the on-site-programme also undertakes a critical examination of the mechanisms that have created this situation.
Who decides what makes a garment such as a hoodie exciting, relevant and cool? To what extent does the context within which the hoodie is worn and viewed determine perceptions of its value? And what happens when you attempt to capture within an exhibition space such a bearer of meaning that normally ‘lives’ outside?
The Hoodie on-site and off-site-programme
This project involves a conscious reversal of inside and outside, centre and periphery, and internal and external presentations. It is an active choice on the part of Het Nieuwe Instituut, curator Lou Stoppard and Concrete Blossom to brand this programme in the context of The Hoodie as the ‘on-site-programme’. After all, the exhibition and other activities that take place within the walls of the institute are organised in a place that is divorced from the original environment in which the hoodie acquires much of its meaning and value. To quote Concrete Blossom: ‘the hoodie’s true value comes from the street’.
In The Hoodie Unravelled, emerging and established experts analyse the interplay of varied concepts such as the politics of value creation, metropolitan culture, fashion and cool through ‘unfiltered perspectives from street culture, where the hoodie originated’. The content of the workshops, events and the ongoing peer-to-peer research is being generated by three so-called ‘Youthdems’: local creatives who represent urban youth culture in different ways. The Youthdems will be introduced to the public via Concrete Blossom’s social-media channels. The live introduction will take place during the Master Class that kicks off the site-programme.
As artists, designers and all-round culture makers who have both feet in the ‘the hood’, the Youthdems approach the hoodie from the decidedly non-institutional perspective of the working-class neighbourhood. The popularity of the hoodie and the practices of these three remarkable Rotterdammers can be seen as expressions of a (demographic) turning point: phenomena, objects, individuals and (sub) cultures that were once peripheral are now decisive for the mainstream of fashion, music, image culture and popular culture.
Moreover, by giving the invited Youthdems a modest ‘bag of institutional money’ for the development of their contributions, Concrete Blossom highlights the gap between the social value of grassroots cultural initiatives and the existing infrastructure of arts subsidies and government funding. Although many of these young makers who operate outside the established cultural sector have become indispensable in socio-cultural terms, they still do not qualify for financial and production support.
During the three months of the on-site programme, a variety of content will be produced and collected that will ultimately form a ‘media mix tape’. Nano-documentaries, photographic and video impressions of events, film diaries, (live) podcasts and special playlists will provide an ongoing record of what is happening on-site and will fulfil an archival function after the event. More details about the first materials to be published in the context of the mixtape will be announced shortly.