I Am Your Only Tiger | 2015-2017 | Total installation | Various dimension
Animal prints in fashion dates back till the early 20TH century with in 1925, American film actress Starlet Nixon wearing a leopard coat, or in 1940, Bettie Page, the emerging pin-up girl wearing an iconic animal print swimsuit. In 1947, Christian Dior presented the first leopard printed dress. The animal print, in it’s initial fashion use has been worn by models, actresses, pin-up girls, in short sex-symbols of their time. It enforced the idea of women as a sexy tiger or leopard. She was a hunter while being a trophy for the men who could catch her.

Farhad Farzaliyev traces with this exhibition the transformation the animal print. In the 70es, it went for the first time underground, being adopted by the punk movement, becoming wilder, more sexual but also less exclusive. Although it stayed a well-used pattern within the haut-couture, the animal prints rapidly grew within popular culture. Bridging both worlds, the Spice Girls walked upon the catwalk all dressed in animal prints in 1990.

Throughout the years the animal print has been copied, repeated and transformed. The exclusive and sexy nature of fabrics and models in the early and mid 20TH century has been interchanged for cheap textiles worn by normal housewives and mothers. It is exactly here that the installation of Farzaliyev pick up.

Where once the animal print was a representation of luxury and exclusiveness, Farzaliyev deals with a material that is disconnected from its initial meaning and intent. He emphasizes the endless repetition of the animal print revealing it as a distant echo of a wild animal. It’s all about the trophy becoming a commodity and wild nature being replaced by industrial production.

“I am your only tiger”, the ironic title of the exhibition is at the same time build around the portrait a woman. This woman reminds of the mid 17TH century painting, “The fur”, by Pieter Paul Rubens. Rubens painted his wife Hélène Fourmant, full-bodied and half naked. Fourmant is blessed with a voluptuous body that is half covered with an animal fur. Rubens paints her with a carefully contained sexuality and shyness in both her gaze and the use of the animal skin to hide her nudity. Farzaliyev on the contrary portrays a mother or a housewife who, apart of the voluminous body, contradicts the attitude Hélène Fourmant in about everything. The hero of Farzaliyev has a proud sensuality and wears the animal print not as a way to hide it but rather to emphasize womanhood.

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