THERE’S a small group of artists coming out of London who are making clothing their go-to medium. One of them is Hong Kong-born Valerie Kong who’s gathered together 40 (and counting) of her closest friends and friends-of-friends to take part in Exquisite Corpse. Taking its name and premise from the surrealist parlour game in which words or images are added to and assembled by a group, passed from one person to the other until it is decidedly finished, Kong’s Exquisite Corpse is made not on a piece of paper but into tops, trousers or skirts.
The idea is simple: the aim is to form bonds through clothing like a giant but silent sewing circle so that eventually you get to know someone not necessarily through their words but through their handiwork. Since its inception in November 2018 it’s quickly gained in momentum and size much to Kong’s surprise. Everyone, it seems, is excited about a new approach not just to making clothes but making things in general. Exquisite Corpse bypasses the individual’s ego and places emphasis on the magic which can unfold when collaboration is left to run totally awry.
Some of the clothes are intricate and beautiful, others wonderfully hideous. All are clearly worked on for hours more than one individual might put into making them. A pair of delicate silk slippers with wooden soles are offset by a garish pink sparkly padded jacket complete with pleated arm wings (not a technical term but, being so unique, you kind of have to make some things up). Ahead of a potential show in June when these pieces will make their collective debut to the world we’re lucky enough to rummage through some finished pieces and speak to Kong at her studio in Canada Water about her relationship to clothing and the project at large just as she is sending out a new batch of pieces to make the rounds.
words: Eilidh Nuala Duffy
WE talk to Valerie Kong who’s project Exquisite Corpse pioneers a new approach to making clothes