“It’s only a paper moon. Floating over a cardboard sea. But it wouldn’t be make believe if you believed in me… It’s a Barnum and Baily world. Just as phony as it can be. But it wouldn’t be make believe if you believed in me.” Paper Moon (1933), written by E. Y. Harburg and Billy Rose.
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening” – Coco Chanel
“What a strange illusion it is to suppose that beauty is goodness.” – Leo Tolstoy
Conduit Gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of work by Margaret Meehan: Paper Moon. Continuing her investigation into otherness, teratology and human nature Meehan links a fashion icon’s legacy (Coco Chanel) to a fictional beast (Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein) with the use of playful humor and macabre tease.
Coco Chanel had an unhappy childhood. She, like many legendary figures was orphaned and abandoned but rose up from difficult circumstances to profoundly impact the world of culture and design. What is less known is that she was also a Nazi sympathizer. She founded a company predicated on elegance and style while enjoying the privileges that she received from collaborating and even spying for an ugly fascist regime. Frankenstein, the book, is an inversion to the story of Chanel. Mary Shelley’s monster had a virtuous and beautiful spirit that became violent and vengeful only when mocked and tortured by a public that saw him as repugnant and monsterous. Chanel’s company and Shelley’s monster were both built from the bones of others.
Meehan’s exhibition includes small chicly dressed ceramic golems and paper works of drawn, painted and collaged Vogue Chanel advertisements on 19th century cabinet cards. Combining fact and fiction that references 1950’s horror movie kitsch derived from post World War fears and anxieties that still exist today. In her Paper Moon, the victim becomes the monster and the monster becomes the fashion victim.
Exhibition September 6- October 4, 2014 at Conduit Gallery
Installation Photo Credit: Kevin Todora