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Cecile Clayton Gouthro
Cecile Clayton-Gouthro performance work

ABOVE: A scene from Cecile Clayton Gouthro's work Connecting at an Unknown Rate at Gallery One One.


Like a lover's touch, clothing connects most intimately with thewearer, caressing or constricting with each movement, and like alover's memory, clothing retains evocative sensations long after thelover has left. What remains within the empty shell, the constrictingfabric, the colours and conforming seams, is the essence of theperson who wore them. Clothing is the language for eachindividual's performance piece; we dress to conform, to call out forattention, to protect our fragility, to parade our status, to show whowe think we are and to hide who we don't want to be.

The language of clothing is culture-specific. In the Western world ithas developed through the fashion system, tracing hundreds ofyears of change and integration that reflect a wide range ofsocioeconomic and cultural events. To the trained eye, that historyis easily recognizable within current styles, for fashion is full ofrecycling: it hauls around past elements like necessary baggage.These elements hold keys to the language of clothing, they retainpast meaning and present them in new interpretations. Takeshoulder pads for example: they were a product of the nineteenth-centuryindustrial revolution, when evidence of a man's statusbecame sober and the sober-coloured suit became representativeof the new power individual, the business man. Whereas previously,somber colours and minimally-adorned clothing had depicted menof lesser status, as opposed to the more colourful and lavish courtdress, now the power shifts in society promoted the no-nonsenseand efficient aspects of less ostentatious dressing. In place ofadornment, impressive structure paralleled the imposingarchitecture of the day. Shoulder pads became the foundation for anew shape - massive shoulders which could handle the weightyaffairs of power. They remained in the domain of men's wear only.Woman did not need them.

One hundred years later the situation had changed. The Westernworld had hardly recovered from losing so many young men in thefirst World War when a second devastating, man-hungry conflictoccurred. Woman were needed to carry on men's work on the homefront and fashion did its own part by giving women big shoulders -incorporating shoulder pads into everything from coats to dressinggowns. That fashion expired shortly after the war. It did not beginagain until the 1980s' "Maggie Thatcher/iron woman women in theboardroom era" - once again paralleling the adoption of hithertomen's roles that had initiated their original appropriation in theforties.

Gallery One One One, School of Art, Main Floor, FitzGerald Building, University of Manitoba Fort Garry campus, Winnipeg, MB, CANADA R3T 2N2 TEL:204 474-9322 FAX:474-7605

For information please contact Robert Epp