Airswap, Manifesta 7, 2008
Airswap, Manifesta 7, 2008

Airswap, Manifesta 7, 2008

(group exhibition)
exhibition website

Airswap is a relational art action meant to take place in airport zones. In the Manifesta7 spaces we want to offer the possibility and motivation to think about the relationship between contemporary art and territory development, encouraging exchanges between a creative context, an active public and cultural officers.

Airswap wants to bring into question the relationship between art, fashion and territory, starting up a cycle of participating actions. The idea about fashion is that of breaking the authority of the image imposed by the markets and give more space to the local labels, by involving them in a more global ground. In border spaces, like airports, it is possible to imagine new social senses: the individual, being away from the urban context, can somehow outrage the impositions and the devices of the markets.

Artists select one dress to modify from the Airswap/M7 database. His/her postproduction and sharing of the projects values, together with that of the other artists involved, will create the installation. For Manifesta7, the installation, shown in Rovereto, will consist of a flexible structure called “Kiosk Airswap”, where the modified dresses will be set up, together with all informations about the artists in a multimedia station.

(Arianne Callegaro)


The Great Ecstasy of Windsurfer Snoopy

We have chosen a T-shirt showing Snoopy windsurfing at the Canary Islands. We have modified it by adding a speech bubble with words taken from Werner Herzog’s film The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner:

I ought to be all alone in the world. Just me, Steiner, and no other living thing. No sun. No culture. Myself naked on a high rock… Then at least I wouldn’t be afraid.

For Snoopy, the words become:

I ought to be all alone in the world. Just me, Snoopy, and no other living thing. No sun. No culture. Myself naked on a high rock… Then at least I wouldn’t be afraid.



A few days ago, an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine stated that super luxury is now available for a fraction of its former cost, and that true wealth lies in sharing and not owning. At the same time, cities such as Paris, and even some Italian towns, are beginning to experiment with transportation means involving shared vehicles. Bicycles and cars can be picked up and dropped off at will, in exchange for a small fee, as a kind of personalized and still public transport system that corresponds with the way that sneakers, musical choices, and even furniture, can increasingly be adapted by the user-wearer-viewer and personalized according to private whim and need.
It has long been possible to rent a fancy gown for some fancy occasion, and the idea of recycling has its different forms in countries ranging from the former USSR, where a recent book chronicles the inventive ways its citizens re-use everything from plastic bottles to nails, to China, where the idea of ownership, recycling, and fair use, are obviated in the utter democratization offered by the prospect of pirated copies of anything from CD's to designer handbags.

Here comes Airswap, the contribution of young artist and graphic designer, Arianna Callegaro, to the greening of fashion. It might just pop up in your local airport. Callegaro's idea is that fashion is fugitive: no brand can escape the decline of time, and change in taste, and thus it is the hands of "creativi" which will eternally rescue and enliven clothing culture. Her smart idea for saving money, making use of new talent, recycling used clothes, and appealing to a mobile, and ever younger population of travelers, as airfares plummet thanks to low-cost lines, is a kind of mobile bazaar that can be installed in an airport in a jiffy, and resembles a snack or news kiosk, with a splash of culture.

Roping several dozen designers into her project, Callegaro will take your old clothes and make them new, give them to someone else, help you find that piece of textile that suits you best, in original and creative fashion interventions provided by the many designers involved, using donated clothing material. It's a chance to support young designers, to emerge from the mainstream, to personalize one's own look, and help the environment. Airswap is a project with roots, and with the determination of Callegaro, it is here to stay.

(Cornelia Lauf, curator)


In 1992, for an exhibition in Madrid (Edge ’92), I employed a small market research agency to ask one hundred people, of both sexes and from a broad age range, which was the item of clothing in their possession which made them feel the sexiest. Sixty of these items were exhibited in the show and the collection highlighted an interesting overlap between the stereotypes (televised, marketing etc.) of sex- appeal on the one hand, and on the other, a form of attachment to articles that were well-worn or very banal, justified by absolutely personal and non predictable factors. There also seems to be an overlap within the Airswap, of a (declared) critical will of “resistance” to stereotypes of fashion and the market, using a modality of action (probably ironic) typical of strategies of communication of the globalized society of goods and communication.

The exchange of used clothing articles amongst strangers is a secondary act, but it is highly dramatic, with the element of invasion of privacy which we (sometimes) concede to someone very close to us. The fact of proposing such an exchange within an airport kiosk seems to clash as strongly as the famous meeting of the umbrella and the sewing machine on the factory worker’s table. There is something surreal, something so impossible, that it becomes intriguing. And the same thing could be said of the intervention of the “artists and designers”, who, intervening on the articles should make a sort of connection – a connecting tissue - between who sheds and who receives. Looking deeper, I read the artist’s will (the will of almost all artists, myself included) to act as a relational glue, to be the missing link in a system of exchange that is no longer based on goods versus money. Can we manage?

(Cesare Pietroiusti, artist)