Picking Back Up Diderot’s Old Gown

Yen-I Wu, Yu Ting Chien

Yi-Meei WANGPey-Chwen LINHwei-Lan CHANGHuang- Chen TANGJun T. LAIYung-Chieh WUYa-chu KANGI-Chun CHENJia-Hua ZHANMia Wen-Hsuan LIU

展出地點/Venue11289 台北市北投區自強街 6161
座談演講:王雅各 美國羅耀拉大學社會學博士/國立臺北大學社會學系專任教授)
Panelist:Y.K. Wang

「配套效應」源於18世紀,歐洲啟蒙運動的思想巨人-法國人丹尼·狄德羅(Denis Diderot):一位朋友送給狄德羅一件質地精良、做工考究的酒紅色長袍,狄德羅於是將舊長袍丟棄,換上新長袍。不久後,他更換了能與新長袍相襯的辦公桌,進而又換了地毯、椅子、書架、擺飾,幾乎是嶄新的書房,才驚覺受到長袍脅迫而替換了原本無意更換的家居。甚至在意識到該行為後感到懊悔,書寫了“Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown”記錄其感到煩惱的心境。
The “Diderot effect” refers to the 18th century’s European Enlightenment period’s great French philosopher Denis Diderot. The story begins with how Diderot was gifted a fine scarlet dressing gown by a friend. He soon abandoned his old gown and put on the new gown. Not long after, he replaced his old desk so to match the elegance of the new robe. Furthermore, he replaced his rug, chair, bookshelf, and prints. He ended up with an almost brand new study room. It was then that he realized he was made to replace all the furniture he never meant to replace. Diderot was regretful toward his own actions and recorded how he felt “Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown.”

The “Diderot effect” describes how people’s desire will not be satisfied with more material possessions, but rather grows bigger. In the capitalist present days, the term is used for those who dress to go along with their sense of identities. Some even see this behavior as being similar to men switching wives in an almost patriarchal world.

One of the attempts of this exhibition is to deconstruct the way society views women. Diderot once said, “to describe women, the pen should be dipped in the humid colors of the rainbow, and the paper dried with the dust gathered from the wings of a butterfly.” The ideal image society assigns to women is: pretty, floozy, emotional, obedient, humble, sometimes weak, sometimes agitated, and always ignorant and useless. The way this image is assigned seems to be society’s “new robe” gifted to women. In order to match up to this image, women replace “furniture”, symbolizing individual ideas, behavior, and ideals. The ideology of feminism has been given importance and has been explored in recent years, yet the result is limited. This exhibition hopes to pick the “old robe” (symbolizing feminism) back up by inviting five to ten female artists to showcase their works. Each of them, using their experience in daily life, presents the subject consciousness of female artists. Each, based on her own role, makes her own interpretations when facing their status in society: feeling there’s nothing one can do, being passive, being independent, being dissimilar, and numerous other possibilities.

Next, this exhibition also attempts to correspond to Diderot’s “Regrets on Parting with My Old Dressing Gown,” which was written after his enlightenment. The female artists revisit their selective sacrifices or replacements in their daily lives, and record these in various forms using words, images, and videos. In addition, they invite male feminists and cultural theorists to the conference to discuss the relationship between female identity and cultural social groups, two aspects that echo in the artists’ work. Furthermore, they are to discuss identity awareness and Diderot’s aesthetics.