style file, out of africa, into barneys

Dept. of culture
Out Of Africa, Into Barneys

Make your way to the ninth floor of Barneys sometime this month and you could find yourself transported to Tunisia or Lesotho and listening to Ja Rule’s version of that eighties’ classic “Africa” by powerhouse group Toto. The trips—international and memory lane—are courtesy of “Reap What You Sew,” an interactive video installation masterminded by documentarian Nicole Mackinlay Hahn. Hahn, a Long Island girl with a self-described African obsession (chalk it up to being conceived in Nairobi), spent two years in Africa, gathering material in nine different countries for a film on the continent’s—and its peoples—role in the garment industry. Hahn selected 18 different sold-at-Barneys and made-in-Africa pieces, a Duro Olowu bag and a pair of Loomstate jeans (brother Scott is Rogan’s co-founder) among them. Her footage plays on a monitor inside a large glass orb on which viewers scan large tags that correspond to each item to see clips of everyday life in the area of Africa where the garment was created. “I was fascinated by how many physical hands a garment goes through,” Hahn explained of the film’s origin. “This [project] is an attempt to bring emotion to the transactional environment.” If seeing evidence of the African landscape where your jeans originated isn’t trippy enough, Hahn will be filming viewers’ reactions to the clips at Barneys, footage she plans to include in her final feature documentary. So meta. The installation will be on display through the end of May, and it’s worth checking out regardless of where you stand on Toto.
—Alison Baenen