Styling globalization: Iké Udé's Sartorial Anarchy
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Citation of Original PublicationPass, V. (2013). Iké Udé: Style & sympathies, new photographic works, exhibition catalog, 10 October - 9 November 2013, Leila Heller Gallery, New York.
In Sartorial Anarchy Untitled #4, artist Iké Udé poses for his own camera in a manner that appears casual: hand on hip, legs crossed, with one finger casually touching the brass Boy Scout bugle sitting on a stool to the right. He wears a Boy Scout shirt with a lacy black seventeenth-century necktie and a black cummerbund over a pair of tweed breeches with bright green and yellow Italian soccer socks and a pair of British Tricker’s bespoke boots. A vivid green, embroidered Afghani coat is draped over his shoulders. Perched on the top of Udé’s head is a boater hat bedecked with flowers in the style of Eaton’s June 4 celebration in honor of King George III’s birthday in which students of the exclusive school row in a boating parade. Of course his posture, like the motley ensemble he wears, is anything but casual. The vertical iris atop the boater hat echoes the arrangement of palm leaves on the stool on the right. The careless but knowing pose echoes that of John Singer Sargent’s enigmatic Madame X (1883-4). Casual and aloof, both Udé and Madame X turn away from us, refusing to meet our eyes directly. Udé creates an exquisite color harmony between the greens of the palm leaves, his Italian football socks, and the Afghani coat. This is coordinated with a suite of burnt oranges, khakis, and beiges, in the rug, tablecloth, coat lining, Boy Scout shirt, and tweed breeches. The backdrop of the image, hand painted by Udé, echoes these colors in softer tones. In his series of photographs Sartorial Anarchy, Iké Udé adopts the pose of the dandy, fashioning images of himself that destabilize masculinity as well as the trope of exoticism in fashion.