Fashion Space Gallery at London College of Fashion opened its latest exhibition, Fordlandia, a project by Studio Swine which brings to life the Amazonian ghost town of the same name, built by industrialist Henry Ford in the 1920s.
Ford’s attempts to create the ideal American rubber plantation to supply his car empire didn’t go to plan. Despite the town having rows of houses, schools and hospitals, by the early 1930s, the labourers had staged the first of many revolts against the strict behavioural controls imposed. After many struggles between Ford and the workers, the land was sold back to the Brazilian government in 1945 and left to decay.
Studio Swine has brought the tropical ghost town back to life with an immersive installation that imagines alternative principles have made Fordlandia a success. The exhibition presents a world where nature and industry have entered a symbiotic relationship to exist sustainably and beautifully.
The exhibition features a collection of furniture and products, which use ebonite, a hard material made from vulcanised wild rubber and other materials from the forest. It references the Brazilian tropical modernist movement and features a selection of historical photographs of Fordlandia.
Studio Swine has also collaborated with LCF alumni Emma Fenton Villar (MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear) and Erica Weide (BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Print) who created three denim workwear jackets as well as a denim wall-hanging and a textile screen for the exhibition.
Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to view a specially commissioned film by director Juurian Booji that charts Studio Swine’s research process – from visiting Ebonite factories to the abandoned town in the Brazilian rainforest itself.
To accompany the exhibition, a publication with contributions by Lily Cole, Kristen Gallerneaux, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Adam Štěch and Karel Veselý has been produced and in the next couple of weeks, an events programme of talks and workshops will be announced in conjunction with the exhibition.
Fordlandia commissioned and curated by Ligaya Salazar opens today, September 22 and runs until December 10.