SAY YES TO THE DRESS (5 NOV - 11 DEC)
Artist and model Nina666 has dreamt of getting married from an early age. Not because of the wedding itself, but because of the dress she will wear. Together with visual artist Martine Derks and fashion designer Marijn Abel, she used this dream as inspiration for the exhibition, the title of which soon came to her: Say yes to the dress.
For Nina666, marriage represents femininity in its ultimate form. This form of femininity has not always been self-evident for her as a trans woman. She sees the exhibition as a statement: you should be allowed to be who you are and wear the clothes you want to wear. For her, fashion is a means of self-expression. The time in which she secretly dove into her mother’s wardrobe is over and the exhibition is a celebration of that.
Say yes to the dress is the stage for the collaboration between the three artists. Nina666’s dream dress was designed by Marijn Abel, who sees fashion as his medium for connecting with others. He calls himself a “social tailor”. His goal is to let people experience “gender euphoria” through his clothing. He previously designed a tracksuit for Nina666 that perfectly matched her desires: it looked like a normal tracksuit, but the inside was lined with latex, a material that gives her a sense of security. In the neurodiverse community, this way of calming yourself is called “stimming”: the act of self-stimulation, in this case through clothing, to reduce overstimulation.
This is exactly what Nina666 wants to convey to the public: the beneficial effect that clothing can have on her. The entire exhibition space surrounds you with silkiness. The main dress is made of blankets and can be donned by anyone who visits the exhibition. Marijn Abel applied innovative techniques that make the dress suitable for any body type. By making the garment accessible to anyone who wants to try it, Nina666 lets visitors share her love for fashion and (wedding) dresses in particular. Her love for fashion is also reflected in her colourful drawings of dresses in all shapes and sizes, for which she took inspiration from her favourite music clips.
The photos Martine took of Nina666 over the past five years show the committed collaboration between the two artists. Nina666 is seen in her favourite, custom outfit in front of her beloved car. Nina666 as Botticelli’s Venus, wrapped in aluminum foil. The photos reveal the growth she went through: from somewhat insecure to powerful and proud. This evolution worked both ways. Because of the close bond between photographer and model, Martine discovered her vocation in photography, which, in addition to her work as a spiritual caregiver, is taking shape thanks to this project.
Marrying everyone, a fusion of audience and artist, that’s what Say yes to the dress is. A space that is tactile, soft and magical like a dreamscape where everyone can be themselves. Of course, Nina666 should not be missing in her own dream world, so she plays her guitar every now and then.
Text: Prins de Vos
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Nina666 is an artist. For her drawings, mostly designs of dresses that she would like to wear, she takes inspiration from her favorite music videos. For Nina666, the clothes she wears are a form of self-expression. She uses her outfits as a statement: being allowed to be who you are. As a trans woman with a preference for latex, this has not always been self-evident. As a multi-talent, playing guitar is also an important form of expression for her. Nina666 also likes to be in front of the camera. It has always been her big dream to be a model.
Marijn Abel recently graduated from the Rietveld Academy with a project in which he interviewed people for hours, and created the ultimate piece of clothing for them based on those conversations. He sees designing and making clothes as his medium for making connections with others and calls himself a “social tailor”. His goal is to let people experience gender euphoria through his clothing, and he focuses mainly on people for whom gender has not always been a given. The crowning glory of Marijn’s graduation is a publication in Vogue that will be published later this year.
Martine Derks is a visual artist who also works as a mental health professional (caregiver). She loves collaborating, firmly believes in creative connection and prefers to connect with people for whom creative self-expression is a necessity. The exchange with the other is always central in her work. For her dialogues, whether visual or verbal, she likes to use the making process as an engine. What the making process looks like and how it takes shape, mostly depends on the other. She connects where possible and moves along for a while. This can be intimate, intense and incredibly beautiful and that’s exactly what she wants to show the rest of the world.