With Costume, Daniel Lannes returns to and further develops a kind of procedure similar to that used in the 2007 Safe Sex series. The creative process of the group of works we show here, like that of the previous series, is based on the creation of paintings with intense formal appreciation,presenting unusual scenes that tell stories of the perversion of norms. While previous works looked to Albert Eckhout, it is now the smears of color of John Singer Sargent and EdouardManetthat form the basis of the painting technique. The artist’s longstanding interest in the human figure is combined with a constructivist eye and the practice of abstraction.
In a manner akin to a columnist, Lannesuses humor to address the relation between image and culture: more specifically the relation between the cultural production of images and the social structure of genres, pleasure and the family.
On this occasion, Lanneshas obsessively researched female costume designed, produced and worn from the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th. In the course of these investigations he focused mainly on dressmaking manuals and style guides of the period. Some images struck him more and the reason for this, generally speaking, was the peculiar way in which the female figure was represented and, often, because of the way these sketchestestified to important cultural features, especially those pertaining to social gender differences.
In these images, the women are totally objectified, with gestures, poses and body-deforming clothing that reflectthe desire to alienate subjectivity. To demonstrate this, Daniel invited men (it is perhaps important to add that almost of them were heterosexual men) to sit for portraits wearing this clothing and striking the same poses as those in the dressmaking pattern books and magazines. The comic effect of seeing a man dressed as a woman makes us wonder what feature of a woman’s role makes it so hilarious when a man assumes it.
Fetishistic transvestitism is classified by psychologists for sexual fetishes and paraphilias in which at least one of the participants in the sex actuses at least one item of clothing of the opposite sex with the intention of providing themselves with some symbol characteristic of the other sex, in order to experience, during the ritual act, some situation in such a way as to generate narcissistic pleasure. One common reason for transvestitism in men is precisely the desire for objectification and the ensuing extinction of subjectivity. The humorousness of seeing a man dressed as a woman stems in part from the ridiculousness of someone being deprived of power.
In the same vein, Lannes has also produced a series of works that critically examines the characteristic features of the family structure as part of his ongoing investigation into desire. Going back to his 2007 preoccupations and taking them further, Lannes creates raw scenes full of cruelty and shows that it is possible to use humor to produce serious work.