By Rohaina Hassan
Since January 27th, the Chicago Cultural Center has been showcasing the personal collection of Chicago-based collector Richard Harris. Over several decades, Harris has curated at least 500 artworks and artifacts that present the deep notion of morbid curiosity.
It displays every culture and its interpretation of “death, mortality, and the impermanence of human existence.” There were two major sections: The War Room and The Kunstkammer of Death. The War Room revealed the horrors and reactions express through art, and The Kunstkammer of Death literally translates to ‘cabinet of curiosities’ and shows the different interpretations across each culture.
Although each and every piece of art was beautiful in its own way and had some deep interpretation, there was one distinct installation: “Tribute” by Guerra De La Paz. This mixed media sculpture took second-hand clothes that were left unused and piled them together in a color-coordinated order. Instead of dyeing these clothes, the artists sorted and assembled each article and produced it into a rainbow of color. Calling their practice archaeology, they are chronicling the history present in everyday debris and its recycling usage.
Not only visually stimulating, these works of art provide a new perspective on sociopolitical issues. Most specifically, the idea of consumerism and society are present throughout the installation. This material shows some of the ecologically unsound and financially unnecessary purchases we make as a society. The story behind each article of clothing depicts previous wearers or people suffering in the slums unknown and unthought-of.
This installation provides a new perspective on the world of fashion and our interpretation. It is a beautiful thing to be presented in a chic manner, but it is another thing to be wasteful and forgetful of the world around us. As consumerism in the fashion industry grows, we should not only pay attention to all the latest trends, fashion shows and designers, but also the depths clothing and design can take us.
Take a moment to visit the Richard Harris Collection of Morbid Curiosity to check out Guerra de la Paz’s installment and all the other artifacts and works present at the Chicago Cultural Center. This exhibition runs from January 27th until July 8th. Plus side? It’s free and there is a cafe right down the street to ponder the depths of death and morbidity.