Vestoj x VNIVRS : Constellations in Art, Theatre and Fashion

The Box

AS AN AUDIENCE WE empathise with a subject, in an exchange with the objects of our gaze: posing a relational question between spectator and spectacle. Exploring the dynamic between staged and artificial forms of time and space with an audience, this second series of images renders visible a few examples of enactments where the box is used as an object to channel suspension in a vacuum. Viewing a subject in a box, or similar cubic structure, has an inherently corporeal effect, creating a parallel, imaginary experience for the viewer. There is the potential for a moment where the viewer is held hostage within themselves, an external, out-of-body sensation.

‘He started to depict specific details in the backgrounds of these works and created a nuanced interaction between subject and setting. Figures are boxed into cage-like structures, delineated ‘space-frames’ and hexagonal ground planes, confining them within a tense psychological zone. In 1952 he described this as ‘opening up areas of feeling rather than merely an illustration of an object’.’

– Text from the Francis Bacon exhibition at Tate Britain in 2009

Francis Bacon, ‘Head VI’, 1949.

‘Man is an abyss – you feel giddy when you look into it.’

– ‘Wozzeck’ by Alban Berg

Alban Berg, ‘Wozzeck’, 1925, view from re-enactment at Royal Opera House, London, 2013, photograph by Catherine Ashmore.
Tilda Swinton; Joanna Scanlan; Cornelia Parker, ‘The Maybe’, 1995.

‘The protagonists are observed,’ as the composer Luca Francesconi explained, as if they were ‘… some bugs in a terrarium.’

Luca Francesconi (Heiner Muller, 1981-1982), ‘Quartett’, view from Teatro allo Scala, Milan, 2011, photograph by Rudy Amisano.
Botho Strauss’ ‘Big and Small’ (‘Gross und Klein’), 1978, directed by Benedict Andrews at the Sydney Theatre, 2011, photograph by Lisa Tomasetti.

‘I was looking at it on the monitor, watching everyone trying not to look at themselves. It was a great thing to do in the fashion industry—turn it back on them!’

– Alexander McQueen1 

Alexander McQueen, spring/summer 2001 ‘Voss’, catwalk view.
Alexander McQueen autumn/winter 2002 campaign, photograph by Steven Klein.
Dsquared2 autumn/winter 2010 campaign, photograph by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott.
Tim Walker, ‘Far, Far, From Land’ for W Magazine, 2014.

Anna Ellinor Sundström is a photographer, filmmaker and founder of VNIVRS.