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Where Fashion and Sculpture Collide - Interview with Laerke Valum

In a time before corona virus when we all walked the street with only the fear of our wallet being stolen was on our mind, I discovered Laerke Valum.

Clean lines, bold shapes and above all, excellent craftsmanship made up the collection by Laerke. As a lover of art and creativity I was instantly drawn to every piece of her collection, ( making it VERY hard for me to leave.) Before anything else Laerke is an artist. Studying sculpture of body and form Laerke experiments with the human form in all ethnicities, genders and identities.

We’re now in July of 2020 and it’s clear that some forget we’re still in a time of global crisis. A time where we need to remain vigilant to keep ourselves and loved ones safe, no matter how good the weather outside may be. We chatted with Laerke about her lockdown life and what creativity and design means to her.

For IRK Magazine - Shot by Lindsay Adler*

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

I want to push the unambiguous relationship between fashion and the body. A thorough examination of the sculptural shape, spatial qualities and the body has been a continuous subject in my practice since my graduation. The body is extended, expanded and protected by the form and for me the space surrounding the body becomes a place of experimental exploration.

By merging a fashion line and an art practice, my clothes, sculpture and reliefs question the separation between art and fashion and our perception of the body. That shows in the my rather sculptural pieces, whether it is meant to be worn, or as objects in their own right.

With each garment designed, what is the story you try to incorporate?

Culturally, the body is the “sign“ which our surrounding world reads us through. Gender, ethnicity and class are thus directly decipherable, making us vulnerable and fragile in the meeting with ourselves and others. Altering and understanding this “sign“ is the core of all my work. I comment and challenge traditional fashion’s relation with ideals of the body, translated in an abstract manner.

Why did you choose fashion?

The human body is a dressed body, so I consider clothing as an extension of the body and its “sign“ and thus fashion an embodied practice. Clothing is a language which provides us with new possibilities for self expression. As clothing is one of the strongest identity markers, it can change our perception of our body, identity and both be empowering and suppressive.

By shaping and altering the body and stepping away from making traditional fashion silhouettes, I make the wearer - or the viewer - aware of their relationship with their own body and other’s bodies and consequently the power of the clothes we dress up in every single day.

In my line of work, I strive to expand the storyline of fashion, as I believe that the tale of the body and the connection between body, clothing and identity has so much more to tell than what we usually focus on in our line of business.

Collection Pieces provided by Laerke Valum

Where and when do you find yourself most creative?

When I find myself alone listening to loud music, which are tools to let my intuition run free. I use unthinking as a conscious tool in my work. And I put great trust in my intuition as the most important tool in my work. I use it as a method to reach a higher level of abstraction from my subject and as a method to reach the right recognition for me. This way of working can for many lead to doubt and uncertainty, because there sometimes is no explanation for your choices. With age, however, I have learned to trust my intuition both in work and in life – whether in the line of a dress or i love, I try to let my intuition guide me, because mostly it is right.

Perhaps you could tell me why you decided to get Into sculpture?

Sculptures came quite natural to me, as they are a part of the same story as my clothing. In my sculptures the clothing is not only an extension of the body, but these two coalesce, I still work with an abstraction of the body. Actually, the sketching process is the same as well, as both derive from small paper shapes and silhouettes folded into 3D collages. In my sculptures I draw on my experience with materials and techniques from my fashion practice and because I know the body and my subject so well, I am able to challenge and conceptualise both.

Laerke Valum Sculptures

What story are you telling with your sculptures?

I am working with the same core theme of my practice, the altering and challeting the `sign ́og the body. But in my sculptures I am set free of the physical body, and this gives me the possibility to do an even more abstract silhouette. The sculptures are made by bended metal, it reproduces the the shell like feeling form the paper sketches really well. Sometimes it is used as fractions of a body in raw metal and also in the large silhuttes painted and covered in fabric, and in that way the sculptures get dressed and in this way refers to all parts of my practice.

Recently i created new sculptures for an solo exhibition. It was due this summer, but as so much else, it has been postponed due to Corona. The exhibition is called `Some Body ́ and in the line of sculptures I worked with the fragile body. Both as the physical fragile body which we sometimes can't control and as the body who makes us fragile on the inside. As the subtitle for the exhibition says ”We are alone in our bodies” (quote lend by Naja Marie Aidt – Carl's Book) and I think a lot of people feel like they just live in there bodies, where as they would like to feel at home.

Sculpture pieces provided by Laerke Valum

How has COVID 19 changed your goals?

To me Covid-19 has been secondary for some time. The day Denmark went in to lockdown my dad got severely ill and was hospitalised. I fell a complete loss of purpose. Being unable to be with him now, is against all instinct and I feel it physically in my body every day.

We always hear this truth, that the most important things are the health and wellbeing of those closest to you - nothing else matters, we know it is truth in our minds, but you only feel it, in your body, when something like this happens. And this will change me, it has changed me, I just don't know in what way yet.

One thing I realised is, that time is not ours. But for know, I got myself a dog and named him Bob.

What is the most positive change you have seen from this pandemic?

The most positive outcome is the reflection, pause and time to revalidate the content of our lives. Also, the fact that we can't control the world as an individual or as a population has dawned on us - I hope this will give us a renewed humility for the world we live in.

Isolation seems to be good for the environment. Do you think the consumer will now pay attention to buying locally and to how sustainable the clothing is? I dream of it, but I do not dare to believe it.

The fashion industry has so many times proved to be hard to turn around. And thats exactly way we we need to keep fighting for it. One of many things I think we need in this process, is a much closer relationship with the final customer. To tell the story of what really goes into making a garment, what people are actually buying and why then the price should reflect this.

Let's try to give fashion a voice, beyond the power of trends. A voice to tell about fashion's value as storytelling, identity building, gender influence, ethnicity, historic influential and not at least the design and craftsmanship behind each garment.

To find more about Laerke Valum please follow this link

Lindsay Adler Shoot Credits*

Photographer: Lindsay Adler

Fashion Editor: Cannon @ The Only Agency

Market Editor: Alexandra Gramp

Assistant Stylist: Orion Scott

Model: Yana Dobroliubova @New York Models

Hair and makeup by Mark Williamson @ Artist Management Miami and @ Creative Space Artists using @macpro, @maccosmetics,@artisbrush and @privehairAssisted by Joel Marriott  @joelmarriotmakeup


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