Bjarne Melgaard:
The Casual Pleasure of Disappointment

February 9th - April 18th, 2017
Red Bull Arts
New York

“Bjarne Melgaard is really a ‘bad dad.’ Though as much as this is truly his character and not some contrived act, he knows, too, that ‘bad dad’ is also a canonic artist subjectivity— an art world meme that remains in circulation because it allows in social violence and public transgression, elements that those who reside in the protected, connectionist culture sphere seem to love or at least love to hate.” — Caroline Busta, “In The Name of The Father.”

Produced in collaboration with Telfar creative director Babak Radboy, the exhibition featured a presentation of the eponymous menswear/unisex clothing line, The Casual Pleasure of Disappointment, which violently embraces the obsessive and self-destructive aspects of fashion and consumerism. For Melgaard, fashion is a vague nothing at the intersection of a subject and an object — between inadequacy, self-deceit, victimization, ethical compromise, intellectual humiliation, financial/romantic entanglements and corporeal decay — driven by an infinite cycle of disappointment and desire.

Returning the space to its previous life as the site of the Barneys Co-op, Melgaard’s New York becomes a total environment to facilitate an emotional and physical purge in which the artist will give away —free of charge to the public —  the indefensible quantity of designer fashion and high-end streetwear he has amassed over the years.

Debuted as part of New York Fashion Week, Fall/Winter 2017, the launch of the Melgaard brand suggests the retirement of Bjarne Melgaard as a fine artist, abandoning the humiliating context of the exhibition platform for the much worse context of cult streetwear: a market pretending to be a community, pretending to be a violent assault on reproduction.

Melgaard poses Narcotic Anonymous as the ultimate streetwear brand — with its decentralized structure, in which deep individual solidarities, an ideology, a program and a shared experience of trauma crystalize in an ensemble of idiotic symbols and slogans, and form a network of distribution and production uniquely separate from the rest of society. In its place, Melgaard projects an entrée of confessional communities based on his most self-serving and subjective opinions:

A collection of sweats and track jackets devoted to building solidarity between older men of means against the emotional and financial exploitation perpetrated by the young — with slogans like, “The more you pay, the less they care” and “Your Loans, Your Problems.”

An all black collection of threadbare T-shirts and bombers give voice and cause to practicing drug users — against the trite reductionism, self-delusion and anti-emancipatory stupor of 12 step programs.

An orange ensemble of hoodies, flight jackets and T’s revive the militant queer Bash Back movement of the early 2000s — advocating the necessity of armed struggle for queer liberation and rejecting the homonationalism, which has measured progress by the right to marry, have children, serve in the military and work (all institutions which must be destroyed). And other things.

Adopting the strategies of commercial marketing, The Casual Pleasure of Disappointment was accompanied by a suite of fashion editorials, look books, and brand identities, which dressed the windows of the installation. A music video made in collaboration with Jim Henson Company was on view within the exhibition. Available for sale at the gift shop was a limited edition magazine-cum-exhibition catalog containing dozens of self-contained booklets, posters, and ephemera featuring photos, drawings, texts and collaborations including Roe Ethridge, Jason Nocito, Miguel Adrover, Heji Shin and more.