McQueen’s engagement with art was part of his design method. As such, No 13. is not simply elevated by association with other art, but is in dialogue with that art and should be regarded as art in its own right. This is most apparent when you consider the Say no to Satan’s Cocktail of sex and drugs shirt and I love this wider narrative of McQueen’s presentation, which was described by Andrew Bolton, curator of 2011’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, as “a tension between craft and technology, man and machine.” The collection was inspired by the Victorian Arts and Crafts movement and focused on materiality, the body, and the organic versus the inorganic and the gradual proliferation of machine technology. The Paralympic athlete Aimee Mullins opened the show fitted with hand-carved prosthetic legs, demonstrating the fusion of organic flesh and the man-made object. The body of woman and the commodification and materiality of her as an object is explored by the fusion of woman and object; the question is, where does the product end and the model begin?
Say no to Satan’s Cocktail of sex and drugs shirt, hoodie, tank top, sweater and long sleeve t-shirt
In Fashion at the Say no to Satan’s Cocktail of sex and drugs shirt and I love this Edge (2003), Caroline Evan explores the commodification of femininity in commerce and art. She notes that, according to Walter Benjamin, women are the embodiment of Charles Baudelaire’s Modernity; they are the consumer, the consumed, the object, and the symbol. Which brings us back to Harlow and the robotic arms. Robotic arms represent technology, automation, the inorganic, and the modern. They are the modern embodiment of the immaterial given form and life by the ingenuity and skill of man; the Golem, the Frankenstein, Galatae of Greek mythology. Technology is at once exciting and terrifying, especially when it dares to express humanlike qualities, as we will examine in greater depth later. The robotic arms were of course programmed in advance but the spectacle presented had an aura of spontaneity, sentience, and creativity; the robotic arms seem to consider the rotating Harlow before lashing her with paint like the outstretched arms of an inspired artist thrashing his brushes across a bare canvas.