about fashion for bank robbers
The Instagram page “fashion for bank robbers” collects a huge range of approaches and positions about the contemporary mask. It connects an interdisciplinary and diverse field working with the themes around body, jewellery and masks while coming out of the areas art, fashion and design. With Carina Shoshtary, who curates and brought the page to life, we talked about the development of fashion for bank robbers, the potential of the platform and medium Instagram, about the fashion for bank robbers exhibition at the MaximiliansForum in Munich and how fashion for bank robbers influences her own work.
LINKS to this episode
fashion for bank robbers: @fashionforbank_robbers
Carina Shoshtary: @carinashoshtary https://carinashoshtary.com/
MaximiliansForum Munich: @maximiliansforum
photo: Attai Chen
Music: Mine Pleasure Bouvar Wenzel | @mine_pleasure_bouvar
This podcast is supported by the HAWK, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim , Holzminden Göttingen @hawk_g_metallgestaltung, by the AStA of HAWK and by the Studentenwerk Ostniedersachsen. Many thanks for this.
Cathleen Kämpfe (C.K.): Four years ago Carina Shoshtary initiated the Instagram platform fashion for bank robbers. The platform shows a range of international approaches and positions about contemporary masks. Fashion for bank robbers connects an interdisciplinary and diverse field working with the themes around body, jewellery and masks while coming out of the areas art, fashion and design. The MaximiliansForum in Munich shows since August until the middle of October 2022 an exhibition about fashion for bank robbers. Carina Shoshtary herself is a jewellery artists working since 2017 with the topic of masks and contemporary head pieces. With musicians and people from the fashion field her works can be seen in a collaborative way. With Carina Shoshtary we will talk about the Instagram platform fashion for bank robbers, the exhibition in Munich as well as about the narratives of contemporary headpieces. Thank you for being here with us today, Carina.
Carina Shoshtary (C.S.): Thank you for having me, Ruth and Cathleen.
C.K.: First of all we have a question for all our guests. What was the last thing you bought from the jewellery sector?
C.S.: I am not buying that much jewellery I must say. Usually I make swaps with my colleagues. The last swap I made was with Märta Mattsson. But at the moment I am looking for earrings and brooches from the fifties witch are made of a featherlight soft plastic. 'Cause I am using this kind of vintage jewellery pieces for my work. So I bought a couple of these and some of them are actually so pretty that I decided to just wear them or collect them instead of cutting them apart. So I need to look for some more (laughs). So you know, it is very easy to get into collecting when it comes to jewellery. So I am collecting fifties featherlight soft plastic jewellery.
C.K.: That sounds really nice. Where do you get them from?
C.S.: It is mainly the usual platforms where you would look. You know, ebay and etsy. Oh, and I found one really nice online store. I don’t know how I got there but they have vintage jewellery. It is interesting because most of it is in England or the US. And I actually read about this kind of fifties plastic jewellery. Because I was wondering, it often says made in Germany. So I was like: Why is all this stuff coming from the US? And apparently it was produced in Germany for the American market. So you can barely get it here in Germany today. You can get it in the US. But it was produced in Germany.
A. S. Ruth Schneider (A.S.R.S.): That is very interesting that it is just export from Germany. Let us talk a little bit about fashion for bank robbers. How did fashion for bank robbers arise? What does the name refers to?
C.S.: Yea, I mean you made already a very good introduction. I made fashion for bank robbers like I started it four years ago. And at the point when I started it I had already collected many many images of masks made by contemporary artists. I was just very interested what was out there. And I found these images extremely interesting and inspiring – I still do (laughs). So I thought maybe others would find that interesting, too. And for me making the page was just a way of sorting this images, you know. Not just having them in a folder. But sorting them and then also showing them maybe for others to enjoy as well. And this is how I began the page. And for the title I wasn’t really overthinking it. I just thought, you know, something with humours, something that explains what the page is about and that it would be a little bit catchy. But I often need to find titles for my work and for exhibitions. So it is not a big over task for me to find a title for something. But I do think that actually the title fashion for bank robbers played an important role in the development of the page later.
A.S.R.S.: How did the page and platform grow by the time? I mean it is a big collection you have there. And yes, what’s the history?
C.S.: The page grew organically but very fast. I mean if I compare it with the page for my own artwork, for my own contemporary jewellery work, it grow much faster. From my side there was a lot of consistency. I really posted an image a day for three years plus ten to twenty stories. It is also a lot of work (laughs). And I think I accidentality caught the trend of the contemporary mask. I wasn’t aware that it was or it would become a trend back then. But this is basically what happened. And I think it was maybe like half year in when fashion for bank robbers had around fifteen thousand followers. So when big magazines such as Vogue and Dazed got interested and featured the page. And of course that helped the popularity of fashion for bank robbers a lot. And when I was mentioning before that the title played a role. I mean I could have also titled it art for bank robbers or something. And I don’t know than if that the fashion world would have been that interested. It was the word fashion I guess that kind of sparked the connection to the fashion world. Which until then, I really had zero connection to the fashion world. So that was also for me an interesting window that kind of opened for me.
A.S.R.S.: So maybe you are also a kind of impulse for the trend? It’s just speculative but it could be I think.
C.S.: Maybe (laughs). I like to think that. That would be so cool.
A.S.R.S.: I think that is possible, definitely. Which are your criterial for curating the page? Or which kind of aesthetics, motives or positions do you incorporate?
C.S.: I really pose what I like, what I find interesting. I know that is not a very satisfying answer. (laughs) I would say I am looking for strong, authentic, artistic expression but also great craftsmanship. And personally I like a bit of myth and magic. You know some fairytale. So if the image has that as well it’s a good choice for me I think.
C.K.: And besides your personal choices, what narratives and meanings are involved in masks and headpieces? Maybe they are different according to cultural placings?
C.S.: The narratives are as diverse as the pieces and as the artists who made them. But I think that often it is about questions of identity. You know, an expression or transformation of once identity. The mask is giving you control and protection. So you can hide and at the same time totally transform for a moment. So you can basically become who ever you want. And some artist also tell me that they making use masks to process trauma and to spark healing. Or the mask could be just part of a look. I would say that making and wearing masks is part of the development of the creative selfie. You know if you think of face filters and how they developed, that you can put all kinds of stuff with a filter in your face. And then I think people took that from a digital world and kind of translated it backward and try to remake something in material, like a similar look. And often there is a need for something mysterious or otherworldly. Because a mask can be such a good tool to amplify the artists creativity but also the view as fantasy. I think there is so much room for interpretation and imagination and that is a very very attractive trade of the mask I would say. Can you say the question again the second part?
C.K.: Of course. Maybe the narratives and meaning are different according to cultural placings?
C.S.: I think that the art and fashion scene on Instagram is a very globalized world. Everyone inspires everyone. You know, a very unknown newcomer artist who lives on the one side of the globe can inspire a huge fashion brand on the other side of the world and vice versa. So yea, that is like my look on it that really we all inspire each other. So I think that it all becomes a collection of different cultural influences, etc. which then is getting picked up and then placed in one mask or in one image or in the other etc.
A.S.R.S.: You dropped some keywords. I think something about control, protection, transformation, creative selfies, mystic and globalized aspects on this page. And I just have this idea: These aspects could be reasons for this trend, you maybe created with this page. Because we can see it there and I think these aspects are very needed or people are searching for it in this time we are living in. Just as an idea. I don’t know, maybe it is a question for cultural sciences?
C.S.: Yea, absolutely. I mean I think there are many reasons for the trend of the mask. And also, you know, it started long tome before Covid. Like if you look at photos of catwalks from 2017 and 2018 there has been so many masks. And often there was also a kind of apocalyptic look that was coming through. And I think the mask is very much a part of that. You know, what is the future going to look like and how much do we have to protect ourselves from the environment etc. And I think the mask is a big part of these fantasies and imagination that we create also around the future. So it is definitely a trend for a couple of years and I see different reasons for it.
C.K.: What I heard from you answer was that these different cultures can inspire each other on Instagram. I think it is the most positive way Instagram could work in this world. Do you have an idea how they exchange on this platform or did they exchange via fashion for bank robbers? Where there any connections you could recognize?
C.S.: I mean yea, in the first two years I did not have a lot of personal contact with the artists. So it was like basically I was just sending out these images and the only reactions I saw was like likes or comments. But then in the last one or two years – and I think this is something that became possible because of Covid, because people where so concentrated suddenly in making real contacts through the internet – we suddenly started really connecting. So I got to know really artists from all over the world who are making contemporary masks. They are not necessarily only mask makers but they also work in different fields. And I hear stories from them, I hear that they are collaborating, I hear what happened after I posted the work. And if the post was successful, you know sometimes really nice things are happening for them. And some of these people became really really close friends of mine now. I mean you just mentioned that is the nicest thing that could happen on Instagram. That is actually the nicest thing that could happen to me and I think to some others too from Instagram that we feel kind of found our tribe and find support and friendship through the connection that we made on Instagram. And that is a very very beautiful thing that happened for us there.
C.K.: Right now you have your exhibition in Munich. Until October at the MaximilansForum. What means the transfer from Instagram, from the digital world, in a physically and analogue space? Does this also changes the way of reception?
C.S.: I mean I wanted to bring fashion for bank robbers out of the Instagram bubble for a long long time. So I am so happy about the exhibition and I am really also very happy how it turned out. I think it is a very different thing to see these images and videos at home on a tiny screen on your phone where you just swipe through with speed and maybe with not so much attention. Or if you encounter them on these huge screens in an art space. And each image is standing for about fifteen, twenty seconds and you can’t swipe. You have to slow down in the way how you consume the images. And we decided not to exhibit objects, because the space isn’t well suited for smaller intricate pieces like I would say most masks are. So we decided to show on the images, videos you know like mini documentaries, artistic films, also music videos and quotes of artists. And I think that works very well in that space.
C.K.: There are also so many disciplines you can show on your page and in your exhibition. How did you decide which videos you want to share in this exhibition and what are your ideas what do you want to show explicit in this exhibition?
C.S.: I wanted to show the variety and the diversity and also the amount of artist who are out there dealing with the theme of contemporary mask. So basically really bring fashion for bank robbers like a very similar idea to this public art space. And of course Instagram still isn’t, even if they want to be, the best platform for video because of the portrait format. So in this space we have a very very big landscape format screen for the videos. So I think it is of course a much much better place to watch videos. And of course I have, you know, my favourite artists whom I was just asking: Hey do you have some videos, can I watch something that you made as a video art or as a music video, etc.? And then I just picked what I liked again. It was a belly feeling just what kind of fit to like the vision I head in mind. Which wasn’t something specific. It was really showing again the variety and the many many different things that are out there and the amount of artists.
C.K.: That sounds really great, like you could put your idea of the page into this real world. It sounds really great. How to you perceive the response to fashion for bank robbers? Is there a difference between the exhibition space at MaximiliansForum Munich or the Instagram platform? I mean you already mentioned you found some true real lifetime friends via Instagram. I guess this won’t happen to you at the MaximiliansForum. But how were the other responses you got?
C.S.: Yea, of course we are reaching a new audience in the MaximiliansForum. There are people who aren't necessarily active on Instagram, people for who the world of mask and everything around it is completely new. So yea, I think that is very nice. What I do realize now is that I get some requests from other museums which are interested or like a film festival. For instance I am going to the B3 Biennale in Frankfurt in October. They invited me also to bring some video art because they heard about the exhibition to the film festival. So that is really exiting that there will be now more changes to bring fashion for bank robbers out of Instagram into other art spaces.
A.S.R.S.: Yes, and I read on the homepage that there is also a program next to the exhibition. How is the audience for this program?
C.S.: So we had two events so far. One of course being the opening. At the opening we had the singer Synne Sanden, with whom I am also collaborating, perform a couple of her beautiful beautiful music pieces wearing masks of mine. And yea, it was amazing (laughs) because it was the opening. We had really a lot of bank robbers. This is how I call the artists (laughs), who’s work I am showing - I call them bank robbers. So we didn’t had actually bank robbers but we had my bank robbers coming from Europe. Like really from many different countries in Europe. And some were wearing their masks. So it was really – for Munich - a very different, interesting crowd I find and it was a really really lovely meeting this people. And Synne’s performance outstanding, it was really wonderful. It was also the first time I met her in person and I met many of these people in person. So that crowd was very different than the usual Munich crowd I would say. For the second performance, it was last week actually, it was a performance by Giacomo Bevanati and two dancers. It was again a really really interesting performance where they would kind of interact which each other and the space and Giacomo’s masks. And Giacomo himself he was sitting on a table making intricate wire mask while the dancers were telling the story of time and creativity. And there the crowd was – it was Munich crowd. So it was very different but I was happy that the audience was very very interested also afterwards in going to the table and seeing the mask from close up and asking Giacomo a lot of questions. So I thought it was really nice. I think that at the opening it was many people who are very familiar with the subject of the contemporary mask. And then, at the second event I would say it was people who were not familiar with it. But they were very curious. So we definitely brought them the subject a little bit closer.
A.S.R.S.: And next to curating this page you are also an artist and you are also working with jewellery. And does fashion for bank robbers also influence your work? If so, how far?
C.S.: Yes definitely! The page influences my work a lot. It definitely encouraged me to try new things. I don’t know what is your point of view. But I made an apprenticeship as a goldsmith and then I studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in the jewellery department. And even though it might be that for people outside the contemporary jewellery world, it seems to be such an avant-garde thing the contemporary jewellery, you know the crazy materials and that is so different from traditional jewellery. But I feel like if you are trained and you are inside this world you pretty quickly find yourself a little bit facing some limitations. Or at least I felt I did. And for instance I wasn’t daring myself making masks for a long time. I was so interested in it but kind of a, you know, as a hobby, when I had time after doing my jewellery. I was a little bit dabbling in it. But I didn’t think yet it at all of maybe put it something in an exhibition. But then when I was showing the pieces on fashion for bank robbers I really really got the courage to make those pieces as my actual art works, take pictures of them, maybe even wearing them myself sometimes. You know getting better with photography, etc. So there are many many levels where I feel it really influenced me. I think I became a bolder artist by curating the page and also by having the community around it. As mentioned because some artist are really dear friends. They aren’t here in Munich but they are spread all over the world and when ever I meet one of them, like one of my bank robbers, there is a real sense of kinship and interest and support. And yea, so it definitely influenced me a lot. And influenced my life a lot in general.
A.S.R.S.: Thank for all these impressions.
C.S.: Yea, my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me!